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Dark skies


By Features Reporter


We’re so lucky in this part of Scotland to have front-row seats to enjoy the Northern Lights and starry skies at this time of year.

The Northern Lights over Thurso beach, Thurso.Picture: Karen Munro
The Northern Lights over Thurso beach, Thurso.Picture: Karen Munro

Thurso beach, Thurso

This fantastic shot taken by local photographer Karen Munro demonstrates just how fortunate we are in the north of Scotland to see the spectacular Aurora Borealis. Also known as the Northern Lights – or mirrie dancers – this natural light display looks like coloured ribbons of light dancing across the night sky. Seen in autumn and winter because of the longer, dark nights, this natural phenomenon is caused by charged particles from the sun colliding with particles in Earth’s atmosphere. Often the colour is green but you could be lucky, as on this occasion, to see other hues such as purple!

The Milky Way seen from the Cairngorms Dark Sky Park.Picture: Paul McGregor
The Milky Way seen from the Cairngorms Dark Sky Park.Picture: Paul McGregor

Cairngorms Dark Sky Park

You too could view the Milky Way, seen here over the Glenlivet Estate.

The Glenlivet and Tomintoul area is one of the best places to discover the wonders of the night sky and is home to the Cairngorms Dark Sky Park. Astronomy events are held throughout the year.

Find out more about stargazing in the Dark Sky Park at www.tomintoulandglenlivet.com/our-dark-skies and at www.cairngormsdarkskypark.org

Duncansby Head, John O'Groats.
Duncansby Head, John O'Groats.

Duncansby Head, near John O’Groats

John O’Groats is best known for its dramatic coastal location which makes an equally spectacular backdrop for clear views of the constellations and the Northern Lights over Caithness and across to Orkney. You can sign up for aurora alerts at aurorawatch.lancs.ac.uk

The Northern Lights over Inverness.Picture: Philip Murray
The Northern Lights over Inverness.Picture: Philip Murray

Inverness

Despite being the most populated hub in the Highlands, it is possible to see the Northern Lights over Inverness on clear nights. Although a capital city, Inverness still enjoys less light pollution than many cities and towns across Scotland, making conditions just right (on a clear night) for viewing the Aurora Borealis and many of the constellations.

Cullen Bay, Moray.Picture: VisitScotland/Discover Fraserburgh/Fiona McRae
Cullen Bay, Moray.Picture: VisitScotland/Discover Fraserburgh/Fiona McRae

Cullen Bay, Moray

The Moray Coast is one of the best places in Scotland to see starry skies and the Northern Lights thanks to the low levels of light pollution right long this beautiful coastline. Renowned as a holiday destination in the summer, the Moray Coast clearly has its attractions during the autumn and winter too. Wrap up warm, brave the elements and you too could be rewarded with a stunning photo like this one!



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