Aurora season

Spring is aurora season, and just before midnight last night a display of the northern lights lit up the sky. Taking a test shot from the window confirmed the alert from my phone app, so I headed out the door. The display had already started to subside once I’d defrosted the car and got to a dark spot. But I got there in time to capture a sequence of 50 frames. Enough for a (very!) short time-lapse…

A meteor can be seen around half way through the time-lapse sequence, just to the right of the Andromeda galaxy. You might need to download the HD version to make it out… Here’s the ‘test’ shot taken before heading out. The display was pretty strong at this point…

Aurora Season: Aurora Borealis from Yorkshire, England

Image details: Nikon D7000Nikkor 35mm f1.8G at f1.8. All shots were 10 second exposures at iso 640. Edited and animated in Photoshop CS6.

Aurora through the mist

Last night a solar storm hit Earth producing one of the strongest auroras of this solar cycle. Unfortunately for me, a misty evening drowned out much of the show. All but for 20 minutes when the silent display flared up strongly enough for me to catch a glimpse… Continue reading Aurora through the mist

Noctilucent Clouds

noctilucent clouds

Living in northern Europe has a few drawbacks when it comes to astrophotography. The high latitude means we struggle to see many of the best constellations. And for a couple of months a year, the summer sky stays blue throughout the night, making astrophotography impossible. But with the drawbacks come one or two beautiful phenomenon as compensation. Along with auroras, midsummer displays of noctilucent clouds are only seen at higher latitudes.

noctilucent clouds panoramic

On the long summer evenings of June and July, a river of electric blue clouds will sometimes appear around local midnight. These ‘night shining’ clouds, believed to be seeded by meteor dust on the edge of space, are illuminated by sunlight travelling clear over the Arctic.

With midnight approaching on the July 7th, the unmistakable sight began to appear through the twilight. I wanted to capture the movement of the clouds by taking a series of images to create a time-lapse video. The time-lapse itself, taken between 12:30 and 1:30am local time, is made up of around 300 individual photos taken 10-15 seconds apart. These were then stitched together using PhotoLapse making the sequences into short video. It’s only brief, but it shows how the clouds flow in a river-like motion from the north. (The red lights seen at the bottom of the frame are those of Bilsdale transmitter, around 50 miles/80km away).

Click here to download HD version of the video.

Details: Nikon D7000Nikkor 180mm f2.8 at f2.8. 1.2 seconds at iso 200.

Northern lights

The Aurora Borealis is a pretty rare sight from England. The last time I saw one was back in January 2005! Last night however, everything came together and the illusive northern lights showed up once more.

I know from experience that it pays to check if any auroras are forecast (99 times out of 100 they aren’t!). Websites like or provide this info, and even offer services to alert you by phone. Checking last night showed an aurora in progress, so I dropped everything and shot out the door. The animation below shows the scene around 5 minutes before the most active part of the display.

Aurora Borealis over york uk

I was able to get out to a pretty good location with an attractive little church and less light pollution just prior to a 15 minute burst of stronger activity, when the skies lit up with fast moving curtains of red and green.

Aurora Borealis from york england 2014

The display died down after this, but continued for at least a few hours more, visible as a shimmering curtain of light hanging above the light pollution of York.

aurora york uk 2014

2005 Aurora

A spectacular display of the Aurora Borealis as seen form North Yorkshire in January 2005. This satellite image shows the extent of the Northern Lights over the UK and Northern Europe on the night of the 21st January. Thankfully I was just on the right side of a large bank of cloud covering much of England.

aurora in selby north yorkshire

aurora in selby, yorkshire 2005

Details: Nikon D70, Nikkor 18-70mm/f3.5-4.5 at 18mm and f4.5. 30 second exposure at iso 200.