Aurora time again…

Aurora Borealis… The Northern lights… The Merry Dancers…

There’s no denying it… The long summer evenings are behind us and the nights are drawing in. The weather feels colder and we have already been battered by some nasty winds and heavy rain. However, there is an up side. Now we have some decent darkness, there is a chance to see that amazing natural phenomenon – the Aurora Borealis. Known to many as the Northern Lights, but called “The Merry Dancers” locally, the aurora can be spotted easily from Orkney. Obviously it is weather dependent and needs the right sort of solar activity to trigger a display, but many local photographers and enthusiasts are eagerly watching the skies and waiting. It can be a long and frustrating business, but worth it when you eventually get to see a good show.

There are several websites that offer aurora forecasts based on solar activity. They are useful but far from foolproof. A good forecast does not always translate into a good display and one of the most memorable displays in recent years was barely predicted at all. However, the sites are worth checking – I tend to use this one: www.aurora-service.eu

Even in Orkney, it is best to get away from the town to avoid any kind of light pollution. Having said that, even with the street lamps of Kirkwall to the north of us, we have been able to view displays from the doorstep of Highland Park House. seeing the aurora is a treat and an unpredictable one at that. We can’t guarantee that you will see anything and we were unable to help one guest who asked “what time will the Northern lights be?” If only we knew…

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