Friday, 27 January 2012

Aurora Borealis - In Search of the Northern Lights of Frugaldom

Frugal Living and Wet Weather Blues

Since the weekend, I have been trying to watch the night skies in the hope of catching my first ever glimpse of the Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis, to give it its proper name. It's the first time in several years that the solar activity has reached sufficient levels to allow us, here in the southern sector of Scotland, to witness this splendid, somewhat terrifying, atmospheric phenomenon. I believe there have even been sightings as far south as northern England!

All week long it has been cloudy and wet! We have had rain, hail, sleat and snow. Finally, yesterday looked like it had 'snowed out', with several areas of Scotland particularly badly hit. However, the aftermath of this was plummeting temperatures and a black velvet, star spangled sky that was lit up by a new moon and the bright light of 'nearby' Venus. I had to ask twice about this bright light, as I was convinced it was a satellite. There's never as much as a flicker of twinkle from it that I have noticed. But then the telescope is still packed away in a box from housemoving and my eyesight isn't what it used to be.

With great expectations, I kept one eye on the aurora activity level map for the northern hemisphere and the other on the night sky... was hoping to see the activity level beat 7. Then the clouds moved back in again and the heavens opened! It's still raining now!

Don't get me wrong, I am no astronomer. Nor am I a regular star gazer (although we do have that telescope lurking somewhere) but the prospect of seeing Aurora Borealis completely free of charge (no pun intended) from our own garden, when people can pay thousands of pounds holidaying in far off, northern countries, paying for guided expeditions as part of a lifetime dream, it's very, very moneysaving and would be most satisfying to be able to make that 'claim to fame'.

Being unable to see beyond the rain clouds here, I chose to watch events unfold in Norway, by way of the Aurora Sky Station live camera - absolutely awesome! Spectacular footage and all for free, from the comfort of home. If you do check out the site, remember you can't see the lights during the day, you'll need to tune in at night.

Apologies for the lack of posts here of recent times, procrastination has been lurking dangerously close to chronic level. I promise to try and update more often and, for now, would like to extend a special thanks to those of you who have chosen to have this humble, frugal little blog delivered to your Kindles.

Edited in:
According to the Met Office, our local forecast is for a freezing night with clear skies. What's the betting that means the Aurora has retreated well out of view? Dead cert!

NYK Media
Frugal Living in Frugaldom


  1. Its never stopped raining (the sun is actually playing today)properly here in West Cork since August. The rushes are invading every field. It seems to be only the dairy farmers (lots of fertilizer) who don't have a rush problem. We keep hearing about Global Warming. What about Global Soaking?

  2. Dave, it's been similar story here. I think I've ventured into the garden twice since the beginning of September. The ground is completely saturated and on ocasions, it's felt more like sailing than driving down the road into the village. Thank goodness we are on the side of the hill! The bottom of the hill is the shore road, so I'm always a bit wary of driving along there at high tide.

    With the amount of rain that's fallen recently, I might shore up the little cobbled drainage ditch that runs along the front of our house and turn it into a micro-river! LOL

    1. No luck here on Lewis either - same story of continual cloud cover. If you want a slightly better view of Venus without getting the telescope out, put your binoculars on a tripod and have a look before it gets dark - early twilight perhaps - then you'll see it as a crescent, or gibbous maybe, without the excessive glare you get when the sky is dark. Good views of the earthshine on the crescent moon too.

  3. We too have been checking the skies - I haven't seen anything (despite working nights) but Mr T is convinced that the rain clouds had a peculiar colour to them.....

  4. Hi Mrs T! My son was convinced he'd seen them at 0455 yesterday morning, as a green glow on the horizon. I asked VirtualAstro (on Twitter), he said it was unlikely, but offered no alternative explanation. I'm still watching the activity levels but am also still watching the rain falling! Ho hum, the best of Scottish weather, I guess. There is a slight glimmer of brightness beyond the cloud, perhaps I'll chck the weather map, too, see how tonight is looking. Bring on those plunging temperatures, clear skies and solar flare activities! Just not enough to knock out the satellites, please. :)

  5. That's exactly how Mr T described it, sort of a greenish glow behind the clouds so maybe they did see something.....I'll keep looking but it is so horrible today with wintery showers. It would be a shame to miss out wouldn't it?

  6. Thanks for the link to Aurora sky station , i looked back over last nights pics ....beautiful!

    No chance of seeing the real far thing this far south so nice to see it albeit third party

  7. Not much activity at the moment but there are jets buzzing about the skies above us, so I am hoping that means the forecast is for clar weather.

    Squirrel, there have been some rally spectacular images on that site, at one point it looked like a face appearing in the midst of the aurora. I can imagine how freaky this must have looked to people long ago, centuries before this phenomenon was scientifically understood. I'd go as far as saying it looked quite Homeric, although I'm also led to believe Homer may have been blind, so unlikely ever to have witnessed such colourful displays.

    Hoping for auroral activity tonight - the forecast is for 0 segrees and clear skies. :)

  8. it has been a miserable week to be looking for them.

    Gill in Southern Ontario

  9. Gill, it's now looking like we've all missed out on the spectacle with the weather being as awful this past week. Not sure of your latitude there, but you must be closer to the polar region than us? Have you managed to see the northern lights in the past?

  10. Hi, just to let you know that I have given you a versatile blogger award as I adore reading your blog. Please don't feel obliged to accept or even 'obey' the acceptance rules.

  11. Thanks, data, I'm honoured that you nominated Frugaldom for any type of award. I don't actually know what a 'versatile blogger award' is, if I'm honest. :)

  12. I do so miss seeing the Northern Lights. I grew up on a farm in Northern Wisconsin and that was always so neat to look out the living room window to the north and watch the show. Now I live in the city in Southeastern Wisconsin so there is a long drive to find a place not "contaminated" by city or yard lights. Good luck I hope they show for you.

  13. Hi Shanna,

    Sadly, we weren't able to see any signs at all, other than my son spotting a green glow on the horizon. Maybe next time. At leat I've got the links to track the activity now, I simply need to remember to check them periodically.

    Sounds great to have been able to watch the Northern Lights from the livingroom when you were growing up in Northern Wisconsin. :)

  14. Is it bad to say it makes me feel a little better that you didn't see the Northern Lights, I'd been hoping to see them here in Northern England and failed to, so knowing that they were hard to find even up in Scotland makes me feel a little better

  15. Better luck next time, Ewan. Rest assured I'll photograph it if I'm ver fortunate enough to witness it. Rest of the family north of Aberdeen didn't even witness it, it was raining there, too.


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