Mar 31

Spring Aurora Watch

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Aurora on the Isle of Lewis
photo by Sandie Maciver
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"When the mirrie dancers play, they are like to slay"

~Scottish proverb

In Scottish Gaelic folklore the Northern Lights are known as the Na Fir Chlis – “the Nimble Men” (also known as the Merry Dancers). The Lights were described as epic fights among sky warriors or fallen angels. And according to legend, blood from the wounded fell to earth and spotted the “bloodstones” (a variety of jasper) found in the Hebrides.

September through mid-April are some of the best months to view the northern lights.

The British Geological Survey, Aurorawatch UK and US body Space Weather Prediction Centre all monitor heightened opportunities of spotting the aurora due to activity on the surface of the sun.

The aurora is caused by the interaction of solar wind - a stream of charged particles escaping the sun - and Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere.  The colors most often associated with the aurora borealis are pink, green, yellow, blue, violet, and occasionally orange and white. Typically, when the particles collide with oxygen, yellow and green are produced. Interactions with nitrogen produce red, violet, and occasionally blue colors.

This tartan, by designer Carol A.L. Martin, exhibits the beautiful diverse hues of the northern lights.

To keep track of aurora sightings in the UK, click the beautiful photo of Sandie McIver's (one of the foremost aurora hunter photographers) showing of the aurora over the Callanish stones on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.

Officially registered tartan graphics on this site courtesy of The Scottish Tartans Authority.  Other tartans from talented tartan artists may also be featured.

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