Scotland’s Northern Lights: Britain's Aurora Borealis

También en la isla de Gran Bretaña puede admirarse el espectacular fenómeno meteorológico de las auroras boreales. Sin duda, el mejor lugar para hacerlo es el norte de Escocia, donde sus bellos y vastos paisajes apenas padecen contaminación lumínica.

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Sarah Davison

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The northern lights, also called the ‘aurora borealis’, is a spectacular natural wonder that appears in wintertime – from October to March – in the far north of the world. Many people travel to Norway or Alaska to see them, but in fact northern Scotland also has excellent viewing conditions. Named after Aurora, the Roman goddess of dawn, and Boreas, the Greek god of the north wind, in the subarctic archipelago of Shetland in Scotland the northern lights are also called “Mirrie Dancers.” 

MAKE IT HAPPEN

Aurorae look like moving ribbons of all colours, shapes and patterns. The spectacle occurs when electrically charged particles from the Sun collide with gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere. The different colours derive from the type of gas particles that are colliding. Lights can be yellow-green, blue and purple, or red and orange. The spectacle can last minutes or just seconds. Be aware, though, that human eyes can’t see the bright, vivid colours that are captured by a camera!

WHEN TO SEE THEM?

While on some clear nights you can see the northern lights from high points in Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, including from a 251-metre-high hill known as Arthur’s Seat, the Highlands and islands of Scotland offer better viewing as there are few cities and towns, so light pollution is low. Nights need to be cold and the sky clear. If you can’t see the stars, then you won’t see the lights, but a full moon will make them difficult to see.

WHite light and whisky 

If you want to see the northern lights, use a torch with a red light instead of a white light, as this affects your night vision. Wrap up very warm, and if you are not driving, a flask of whisky is also recommended! Be patient, wait and watch.

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