Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights is truly one of our planet’s most magical and awesome events that creates a multi-coloured, dancing light show in the sky. This amazing feat of nature occurs when the sun’s emits electrically charged particles and as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere at either magnetic North or South they emit colourful displays and bounce around the atmosphere creating a spectacular light show that cannot be seen anywhere else in the World. The most common places to catch the Northern Lights is as close as possible to the Arctic Circle, countries such as Norway, Finland, Sweden, Iceland and Canada have several locations where you can observe the light show, and somewhat surprisingly, there are many areas of Scotland where you can see the effervescent colours dancing about the sky and here is how.
Due to the timing of the lights and the necessity for darkness to observe them, the best time to witness Aurora in Scotland is during the Winter months and especially after the clocks have changed. During this time any areas of Scotland only see about 7-8 hours of sunlight per day meaning that during those 16 hours of darkness you have plenty of time to try to catch the splendour of the ‘lights’. Aurora watch UK deem the best time to witness activity in Scotland is in early December at around 11pm when the sky is at it’s darkest, the frequency of the lights changes depending on a number of environmental factors but if you want to see Aurora then Winter in Scotland is a must.
Naturally the further north that you are, the better chance that you have of seeing the spectacle, the reason being is that the further north that you are, the closer you are to the magnetic pole which is where the electric particles gather. The next consideration that you need to have when seeing the Northern Lights is that you ensure that you are in a location with little to no light pollution. If you are in a big city or well lit town then it is unlikely that you are going to see anything as the first things that your eyes will notice are the artificial lights in the sky. In the past few years these have been the best places in Scotland to see the light show.
At the far northern coast of Scotland, a vast area that offers miles and miles of untouched land that has no light pollution whatsoever, perfect for Aurora spotting.
Whilst Aberdeen may be on the same latitude as regions in Norway and Iceland, this is the one of the few places in Scotland that it isn’t right up in the North where you can see one of the fullest displays of Aurora. Perfect for tourists as Aberdeen is a fully functioning and busy city packed with accommodation and things to do.
- Galloway Forest Park
This is the only ‘dark sky park’ in Scotland and one of only a handful in Europe, the park is dedicated to stargazing and of course, catching the dancing lights of Aurora, if you are truly dedicated to all things in the sky then this is the perfect place for you, hire a tent or rent a cabin and you will be guaranteed the darkest and most unobstructed view to the sky that you could wish for.