Last week the sun spewed out an enormous solar flare which we were told would light up the northern skies with a fantastic auroral display. The skies above Knoydart were, as usual, hidden by a thick fug of grey cloud so I hopped on a boat and then drove over 100 miles to Findhorn on the east side of Scotland where the sky was clear. I parked up by the sand dunes and set my camera facing north over the Moray Firth, hoping to capture a timelapse of charged particles bouncing about in the upper atmosphere – the northern lights.
I’ve seen it a few times before, in Lapland. When you get a good show, as I did, it’s as incredible as everyone says. The best show I ever had was when I was snowshoeing across the Arctic tundra in Sarek National Park in Sweden. The whole sky pulsated with curtains of red and green. I was with a friend who never stopped talking but even he stood there open mouthed for ten minutes not knowing what to say.
Back on the beach at Findhorn there were a few clouds scudding by but it was pretty clear. Jupiter and Venus lit up the skies over Inverness but there wasn’t so much as a squirt of northern light. So what do you do when you’re standing alone on a beach, in the dark, for four hours, in the middle of the night, hoping to film the northern lights when there’s no northern lights to see? You take night shots of the beach instead. Here’s a few from that night.
Oh, the following night the northern lights did put in a show but I was back in Knoydart under that perpetual west coast cloud so I didn’t see a thing. My advice if you want to see the northern lights? Go to Lapland.