Aurora Borealis over Scotland

Picture this: Last night we were all snuggled up in front of the fire and watching Highlander. We had celebrated ten years, to the day, since our first date with nice food and a good bottle of red! I decide to check Twitter. It seemed like EVERYONE knew about the Aurora Borealis over Scotland, except me!

Grabbing a coat and a camera we set off out in to the pitch black, stood on the driveway and faced north. It took our eyes a few minutes to adjust and as they did more and more stars appeared and a faint light was showing over the trees. Something different to the rest of the night sky.

Now, if I hadn’t have seen this geomagnetic phenomenon before I don’t think I would have stayed outside for too long because it just looked like ambient light. But if you looked at it long enough you could see it quite obviously moving. It’s not until you get the camera on it that the colours appear brighter.

I hadn’t bothered to get the tripod out before checking that there actually was some activity. So I took a couple of images of the sky just to see the colour, and sure enough, there they were.

Aurora Borealis, Scotland, Scottish Travel Blog, Scotland Travel Tips
Test shot before setting up properly

I won’t get all technical but the shutter on the camera needs to be left open for longer so that it captures the night sky. It won’t matter how still you think you are standing when you have a long exposure – the photo’s won’t be making National Geographic if you don’t a tripod or something stable!  So now I knew it was definitely the northern lights I am looking at I trot back off into the house to set up the camera on the tripod.

We must have been outside for forty five minutes. The sky was so clear that even with the naked eye we could see so many stars.

Aurora Borealis, Scottish Travel Blog, Scottish Travel Tips Aurora Borealis. Scottish Travel Blog, Scotland Travel Tips

Deciding we had seen enough we went back inside. By now my Twitter feed is full of images from around Scotland and the beautiful colours in the night sky. I saw photos from as far up as Shetland and into England as far down as Telford, Shropshire!

This morning I find one of my images used (with my permission and credited) on the BBC News website and amongst some brilliant shots from others who had braved the cold weather and dark!

This really was a perfect end to our ten year anniversary, a gift that money can’t buy, the Aurora Borealis over Scotland. And yes there may have been a sneaky (read: bad) rendition of Coldplay’s Yellow “Look at the stars, look how they shine for you.”

Aurora Borealis Perthshire, Scotland, Scottish Travel Blog, Scotland Travel Tips


  1. joanna March 7, 2016 at 11:05

    It looks amazing, what a lovely thing to be able to experience and photograph

    1. Melanie March 8, 2016 at 11:16

      I try not to spend too much time behind the lens otherwise you are not truly experiencing the display. But they are so beautiful

  2. Cathy ( MummyTravels ) March 7, 2016 at 11:27

    I am so jealous! Those are incredible photos too – I’ve been to both Iceland and Lapland to spot the lights and not managed either time. Happy anniversary.

    1. Melanie March 8, 2016 at 11:15

      We went to Iceland a couple of years ago too and were lucky enough to see them but it wasn’t a bright vivid display like imagined it would be. But at least I can say I had seen them.

  3. Sonya Cisco March 8, 2016 at 10:23

    wow wow wow! Have utter envy – seeing the northern lights is at the top of my bucket list, but I live right on the south coast so not much chance here – I will have to travel North and keep my fingers crossed!

    1. Melanie March 8, 2016 at 11:10

      A couple of years ago we travelled to Iceland, stood around in a field at stupid o’clock absolutely FREEZING to see a very faint display. But nontheless felt lucky to have seen them. I have since seen more vivid and active displays whilst being up in Scotland. It is definitely worth seeing

  4. Idaintyit March 8, 2016 at 20:56

    Absolutely breath taking! I want to camp under that sky

  5. Kara March 9, 2016 at 14:37

    Wow, Wow, Wow – the northern lights is at the top of my wishlist. May have to plan a trip to Scotland

  6. Natalie Ray March 9, 2016 at 23:05

    These photos are just beautiful and I am insanely jealous! I will see them one day, fingers crossed they make an appearance when we come up to stay!x

  7. Andrew Darwitan April 10, 2016 at 15:24

    I had a similar experience too. I managed to catch aurora last month in Norway. It was an incredible experience, but came with a lot of hard work and perseverance. I arrived in Lofoten Islands and it began to snow heavily with clouds covering the sky. Knowing that my chance is really slim, I headed out just for the sake of practicing dark night photography. And then I saw the “white clouds”, which I first ignored but then I thought “no harm, just try to shoot it with long-exposure technique… who knows?” and damn it really is the aurora! I headed out further to find a really, really dark spot and finally saw the famed “dark green” color after two hour of hikes, Really beautiful sight, especially as the setting was in a dramatic range of mountains rising from a fjord. =)


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