Wednesday, 18 March 2015

The Great Aurora Storm of 17th March 2015

March must be a favoured month for Auroral storms. The only time I've ever seen the Northern Lights was on 13th March 1989, the great magnetic event that knocked out the electricity in Canada. An excitable teenager, I remember looking out of my bedroom and thinking the sky looked somehow rather odd and "green", and running out back to find what looked like sunset taking place overhead.

There was an red-orange band stretching through the zenith from one horizon to another, while in the northern skies, great billowing curtains of green shimmered. I phoned up Patrick Moore, his phone was constantly engaged. I phoned up an astronomy loving friend, sadly poor Elanor couldn't see anything despite the ranting assurances of her telephonal adviser.

So, I was pretty excited when I saw reports of a huge geo-magnetic storm brewing in our atmosphere, and a near certainty of auroral displays being assured. Initially the night was cloudy, but it began to clear; Jupiter was soon piercing the clouds after sunset.

And as the sky cleared, there was indeed an orange glow low in the north. But of course, it was the light of the industrial estate reflecting off a thickening haze. I kept looking out, but it was pointless. By midnight, the haze had become a for so thick visibility was down to 25 metres or less, and any aurorae above me could have been forming love hearts in the sky and I'd never have noticed.

The glorious pictures I saw from all over the UK, some from far further south than here, demonstrated that the aurora put on a fabulous display for many people. But sadly, not in the East Midlands.

Me, I just photographed the fog. Great,


Magnolia by night

The vapour drifts by

Disappearing bicycle

Illuminating the mist

Streetlamp through shrubbery

Across the park

Like "Close Encounters"


  1. Sadly, nothing visible here either :( clear skies but too much light pollution. Seeing all the wonderful photos I wished afterwards I had driven into the depths of the countryside on the offchance the aurora would have been visible.

  2. A few folk did...good views in the Peak District for a time. The east coast would be the best bet