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Established 16/3/2000
Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) over Ireland, Jan 2005
A huge X-class solar flare, said to have been the biggest to erupt from the Sun since 1989, was seen by the SOHO satellite on January 21st, 2005. When it hit Earth, it caused huge displays of the Aurora Borealis in the northern hemiphere. Some of this display was briefly visible from Ireland, but cloudy conditions spoilt much of the event for Irish astronomers.
Aurora over Drogheda

Believe it or not, this is the best photo I got the whole night! The conditions were pretty bad, although there was some break in the cloud at this time. The photo was taken around 10.10pm and was a 20-second exposure with a Nikon D70. You can just about make out the green "curtains" of light, although there are plenty of other colours in the sky in this photo, which was taken in a fairly urban location in Drogheda.

Aurora over Drogheda

Another shot which just about shows the aurora, which is the greenish band across the middle of the photo, more noticeable on the right. The handle of the Plough is visible to the upper right. Again, taken in an urban location in Drogheda, County Louth.

Aurora at Drogheda

I've darkened this photo somewhat because it was overexposed. The lights along the bottom are those along the M1 where it meets the Boyne Cable Bridge, which is just out of picture on the left. At bottom is the Boyne river. Again the aurora shows up as a greenish band across the middle of the photo.

Light beams at Newgrange

Not to waste the night, myself and Richard Moore drove out the Boyne Valley to see if we could glimpse the aurora under darker conditions - even though the Moon was approaching full. When we got to Newgrange there was a dense fog. The above photo shows all that we could see of Newgrange - a lone standing stone and some light beams - kind of apt really! Click here to see Newgrange and the aurora on a different night.

Beams of light

The conditions weren't much better up on the Hill of Slane, where I snapped this photo showing how the fog brought out the light beams.

Surreal light in the bushes
The conditions all made for a very surreal atmosphere. No, there was no alien activity going on behind these bushes - just mist and fog lit by the street lights and neon signs at a local garage!
Slane and Moon
Slane and Moon
Having given up on seeing any decent display of the Northern Lights, myself and Richard turned to creative photography, taking the above shots of the ruins on the Hill of Slane.

See more astronomy photographs here

All information and photos, except where otherwise stated, copyright, © Anthony Murphy, 1999-2015
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