The lure of the Aurora

Cloud is the Aurora watchers nemesis. It can sweep in silently without warning and cover the Northern horizon, obscurring any chance of a good showing. Heavy cloud and rain was forecast from the early hours, watching the weather radar gave incoherent data around the location I was planning to be at. In the end, if all else fails, just go! But when you have levels like this, its a very simple choice!


Darkskies are all around the cottage where I live in the Brecon Beacons. It’s quite easy to get a feel for the clarity of the night sky, just by walking outside. Whilst loading the boot of the car with a tripod and rucksack I glanced upwards and inbetween the cloud, the stars were visible and crystal clear. Crossing my fingers I shut the door and drove up into the hills.

Over the last 8 years since we moved to the Brecon Beacons from Cardiff, I’ve been lucky enough to see the Aurora on a number of occasions in the national parkl. I have a collection of quick to get to locations that work. A short drive later and I was unpacking the tripod.

Initially I was expecting bigs things, I genuinely cannot recall an nT reading of 900+ ever in the UK.

In every respect I was disappointed when I arrived. A quick check in the skies and all I could see was cloud and a few stars, no colour, nothing. The time was just gone 9PM, so it was early. The numbers didn’t really stack up, as the nT levels were already in excess of 300, so I would have expected at least to see how pink hues in the sky.

Fifteen minutes of waiting was all it neeed, the skies began to turn pink and the following few hours delivered some of the clearest aurura borealis I have ever seen in the Brecon Beacons. Very clear light pillars, pink skies and dancing aurora. It was fabulous.

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