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The Heavenly Dancers

They have many names and a place in folk tales around the world, here in Moray they are often referred to as the ‘heavenly dancers’ as sang in a folk song “The Northern Lights of old Aberdeen”.

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The Heavenly Dancers
David England, Duffus Castle, Northern Lights, Heavenly Dancers, Aurora Borealis

They have many names and a place in folk tales around the world, here in Moray they are often referred to as the ‘heavenly dancers’ as sang in a folk song “The Northern Lights of old Aberdeen”. They are officially known as aurora borealis, a phenomenon caused by solar storms on the surface of the sun. The effect is far less scientific, and if you’ve ever had the privilege to see them, you will never forget the magical experience and the thrill of watching the lights dance.

David England, Duffus Castle, Northern Lights, Heavenly Dancers, Aurora Borealis
Credit: David England

Alive with Colour

One occasion in particular I vividly remember, when I was driving from Hopeman to Lossiemouth with my sister and was suddenly aware that the sky was alive with colour. I pulled into Cobain’s Road (leading up to the Clashach Quarry) and stood gazing at the sky in wonder for a show which lasted 20 minutes. The sky was filled with psychedelic colours, shimmering and moving with columns of green shooting upwards. Neither of us could believe our eyes, but were mesmerised by the show.

See them with the naked eye

I have seen them a number of other times, as a greenish glow. If you stare long enough you can see movement and shimmers, but more often than not, what you see is not as clear or colourful as the images the camera captures. With long exposures and a tripod, the images can be truly amazing. With the naked eye you can be sure that you’ve seen them when you know what you are looking for. Just last week there was a visible glow in the night sky, so off we went at 1130pm to see what we could see. There was a clear green domed glow across the horizon, punctured by vertical columns of green shooting upwards through the faintest of pinks. My android phone came up trumps and we captured these images (not a patch on the enthusiasts’ ones we saw the following day on social media!)

Norther Lights, night sky, aurora borealis, heavenly dancers

A good friend has a FB page (https://www.facebook.com/aurorakel) sharing images and alerts for when they are likely to appear, which Ed and I follow. There really is a thrill in pulling warm clothes over your pjs, and venturing out into the dark for the chance to see the Northern Lights.

The 2 images of Duffus Castle were taken by David England, an amateur photographer living locally, he has really captured the magic of the skies dancing over Duffus Castle – I hope you to have the chance to see them too!

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