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Best places in Scotland to see the Northern Lights

The Northern Lights captured over Mull in August. Picture: HeMedia

The Northern Lights captured over Mull in August. Picture: HeMedia

  • by Stephen Emerson
 

THE Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, are an elusive phenomenom but fortunately Scots have a better opportunity to witness them than those in other parts of the UK - you just have to know where to look.

The dark nights of the Winter months are the best time to catch a glimpse of this mesmerising display and thanks to a map produced by Aurora Watch you can find out where the best vantage points are.

The Lancaster University-based unit also run an email alert service, along with Twitter and Facebook pages, which lets subscribers know when the Aurora is active.

The Aurora Watch map features clusters of viewing hot spots around the north east of the country however there are also a number of locations on the west coast.

Locations include:

Cairngorms National Park

Wick

Thurso

Fraserburgh

Troon

Isle of Arran

Oban

Steve Marple, a researcher in space physics at the Lancaster University, said:

“Winter is definitely the best time and there has been a lot of activity of late.

“Getting a view of the Aurora Borealis is very much a matter of where you are.

“What makes a difference is getting away from street lighting and making sure you have a good clear unobstructed view north.

“If you can get away from Glasgow and Edinburgh all the better.”

Lancaster University’s Aurora Watch has also launched a monitoring scheme which will see three Scottish schools monitor Northern Lights activity.

A total of ten magnetometers have been dispatched to 10 schools in the UK with schools in Shetland, Tobermory and Orkney all receiving the devices this week.

A magnetometer measures the strength of magnetic fields which, if strong, give an indication that the Northern Lights are likely to be active.

The schools participating will send their findings back to Lancaster University who will feed them into Aurora Watch’s alert system.

Steve Marple said: “About three years ago we had a survey of our subscribers base and found there were very few school age children on it.

“We hope that by sending out these devices pupils will develop an interest in science, technology and mathematics subjects.”

SEE ALSO:

In pictures: Northern Lights over Scotland

 

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