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  • Northern lights over Orkney's east mainland - image by Premysl Fojtu

Northern Lights

Clear skies and you can catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis

For centuries, the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, have captivated onlookers and given birth to countless myths and legends about their origin and meaning.

Nowadays we understand that our so-called ‘Merry Dancers’ are caused by charged solar particles colliding with atoms in the Earth’s atmosphere, but the spectacle of the Northern Lights remains awe-inspiring.

Orkney is a great place to witness the Northern Lights, with autumn and winter the ideal time of year. That said, clear, dark skies are needed, in addition to the right levels of atmospheric activity. And you'll need some photography skills to get the best out of our aurora displays - don't expect bright, dancing colours. Instead, use your camera's settings to capture the moment perfectly.

If you’re planning a bit of aurora hunting in Orkney, then the Orkney Aurora Group on Facebook is a great place to start. Members post regular updates on the potential for a display, and you’ll even get real time information and images from those ‘out in the field’, tracking down a sighting of the Northern Lights.