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The aurora is the effect that is caused when charged particles in solar winds are pulled into the atmosphere by the earth’s magnetic force. This force is also what channels them towards our geomagnetic poles.
When these particles collide with the gas atoms and molecules of earth’s atmosphere, the lights of the aurora are emitted. The more collisions there are, the brighter the lights are.
The different colours of the aurora are created by the particles colliding with the different gasses in our atmosphere and because earth has two magnetic poles, we get the aurora borealis at the North Pole and the aurora australis at the South Pole.
What do I look for?
Look out for pillars (stripes with a green tinge) coming down from the sky. These may move as you are looking. To see what is there in more vibrant colour, let your camera do the work!
To photograph it, you will need to get to grips with long exposures and definitely use a tripod. See the link for further advice.
It is very rewarding to see your photographs bring to life this magical phenomenon.
Realistically, what can you expect to see from North Aberdeenshire?
Well, Northern Scotland is on the same latitude as Norway and Alaska which means you have every chance of seeing it.
These photos were taken at Buttermere Cottage in March 2017.
November to March is Aurora chasing season.
Where do I start?
First of all, sign up to an Aurora Alert App such as Aurora Watch. You're looking out for an Amber Alert (Possible sightings) or even better a Red Alert (Likely sightings). But this isn't set in stone. You need a bit of luck on your side as well. A clear sky with little or no clouds. As dark as possible, no full moon and avoid places where there is light pollution. (I can recommend where to head from Buttermere Cottage). It's important to remember nothing is guaranteed, but if you know what to look for you have a good chance.