Northern Lights captured in stunning photo in Caithness

This stunning image shows spectacular scenes in northern Scotland as the Northern Lights illuminate these rugged coastal cliffs.
Amazing aurora seen over the sky above John O'Groats on Sunday. Picture: SWNSAmazing aurora seen over the sky above John O'Groats on Sunday. Picture: SWNS
Amazing aurora seen over the sky above John O'Groats on Sunday. Picture: SWNS

Bands of deep purple and green shimmering light fill the sky above John O’Groats, illuminating the rocky landscape below.

In a rarely seen shot, the ground can be clearly seen beneath the extraordinary aurora borealis phenomenon as the grassy bank is bathed in moonlight.

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The picture marks the start of the Northern Lights season - a period of six months in which long, dark nights make it easier to spot the dazzling displays.

It was taken on Sunday night by aurora chaser Maciej Winiarczyk who has spends much of his spare time capturing the aurora borealis in all its glory.

Maciej, 44, said: “This picture is particularly unusual because of how much of the ground you can see.

“Normally the sky is very bright but the rest of the picture is very dark, however the moon was very bright on this occasion.

“It was around an hour after sunset and the cliffs were completely lit up. It almost looks like daylight.

“I was hoping for the sky to be brighter, but when I saw how light the rest of the picture was, I was pleased with the result.”

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The bright dancing lights of the aurora are collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere.

The lights appear in many forms from patches or scattered clouds of light to streamers, arcs, rippling curtains or shooting rays that light up the sky with an eerie glow.

Maciej, from Caithness, Scotland, travelled around 50 miles to capture the aurora borealis on Sunday night, before trekking to the edge of the cliffs.

He said: “I don’t normally choose this location as it’s not very accessible.

“The ground is very wet and boggy but I was expecting to see a good show so I sacrificed myself.

“It was actually easy to navigate this time because of how light the sky was so I walked around a mile before waiting for around two hours for something to happen.

“Everything was over very quickly, in around five minutes and this picture shows the sky at its brightest.

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“I am looking forward to the next few months where the nights are longer and we are treated to much better displays, which I hope to capture.”