Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Northern Lights pictures: Northern Ireland snappers feast on heavenly aurora borealis

Stunning image taken at Bishop's Point Magilligan. Photo by Owen Anderson
Stunning image taken at Bishop's Point Magilligan. Photo by Owen Anderson
Stunning image taken at Bishop's Point Magilligan. Photo by Owen Anderson
Tamlaghtard Church, Magilligan. Photo by Owen Anderson
View from Ballycastle. Taken by Cathy Clark. Cathy said: "This is my first time photographing the aurora. Rathlin Island is in the background."
The spectacular aurora above Dunluce Castle on the north coast. Photo by Martina Gardiner
People look at the lights from Portstewart Strand on the Causeway Coast. Photo by Joe Kennedy
The view of the sky over the ancient Beaghmore Stone circles in Co Tyrone. Photo by Martin McKenna
The lights at the Giant's Causeway, Co Antrim, on Thursday. Photo by Martina Gardiner
Amazing display at the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. Photo by Alistair White
Rathlin Island by Kevin McAauley
Rathlin Island by Kevin McAauley
The Giant's Causeway. Photo by Alistair White

Photographers flocked to dark vantage points well away from the city lights to capture images of one of the most spectacular auroras seen in Northern Ireland in years.

The magnificent Northern Lights display was all the better for being unexpected.

Even though a violent X-class solar flare shot a huge cloud of charged particles from the sun into space a few days ago, the cloud was expected to speed right past the Earth, or at least hit a glancing blow.

But according to storm-chaser Martin McKenna, the CME (coronal mass ejection) came racing through space at 2,000km per second, "whacked the magnetic field" and generated a major geomagnetic storm.

"I'd been out storm-chasing all day, but as soon as I got home the charts were going crazy. I had no dinner, no water, no anything – I was immediately back out again, fuelled by adrenaline," he said. Martin headed to Beaghmore stone circles in the Sperrins and then Lough Fea, capturing some incredible images.

"The sky turned blood-red to the naked eye and vivid orange, with huge green beams punctuating through the red," he said.

"It was unbelievable – the best aurora in over a decade."

The Giant's Causeway. Photo by Alistair White
The Giant's Causeway. Photo by Alistair White

Photographer Martina Gardiner was one of the aurora-chasing crowds who flocked to the north coast a few weeks ago only to be disappointed.

"I'm very into night-time photography and the aurora is the most wonderful thing. If you get a good night and an aurora, it's heaven for a night-time photographer," she said.

She went to the north coast and spotted the first signs on the road out of Coleraine as she headed for Dunluce Castle.

"I could see a band of light right over the sky and I knew it was going to be amazing," she said. "I saw pillars, shafts of light going up into the sky. I could see pink funnels going up."

Meanwhile, it was photographer Joe Kennedy's first time capturing the aurora as he staked out Portstewart Strand, and he said he would definitely be out again.

Taken a photo of the Northern Lights? Want to see it in showcased here? Email it to digital.editorial@belfasttelegraph.co.uk or send via our Facebook or Twitter page.

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