The Northern Lights Scotland: Spot the Aurora Borealis

The Northern Lights or also known as the Aurora Borealis, is a natural light phenomenon created when the Sun’s particles hit the Earth’s atmosphere.  Depending on the magnitude of explosions/solar flares from the Sun, the greater and more magical the light displays. The Northern Lights Scotland have been documented for many years and even mentioned in songs. Here are some of the best places in Scotland to witness the dramatic Northern Lights.

Shetland Islands Aurora, Scotland
Shetland Islands Aurora: Photo on Flickr by Ronnie Robertson / CC BY-SA 2.0

Best Time Of Year For Northern Lights Scotland Spotting

The best time of year is historically between November till March with the long dark days, but they have been known to have been seen in August. Did you know that as well as the Northern Lights there is also the Southern Lights also known as the Aurora Australis, too.

The ideal conditions is a cloud free sky and not on a full moon, especially if taking photographs. If taking photographs, don’t forget your tripod!

Ayton Aurora, Scotland
Ayton Aurora, Scotland: Photo on Flickr by Jonathan Combe / CC BY 2.0

History Of The Northern Lights In Scotland

In folklore, myth and legend, since the beginning of time man has been afraid of the Northern Lights. Here in Scotland the Gaelic folklore called the Northern Lights Na Fir Chlis – “the Nimble Men” or also known as the merry dancers.

Aurora over Bute, Northern Lights Scotland
Aurora over Bute: Photo on Flickr by Mark / CC BY-SA 2.0

Everyone in Scotland has heard The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen song at least on one occasion in their life. Written in the 1950’s by Mary Webb about a home sick Aberdonian lass. The Northern Lights can still be seen here, but with the growing light pollution it is better to head out to darker areas of Aberdeenshire.

The Northern Lights Of Aberdeen Robert Wilson ©Ian Anderson 

On The Hunt For The Northern Lights

We’ve all heard of Storm Chasers, the excitement and adrenaline of capturing and seeing these natural wonders. Scotland is a great place to explore and hunt for the Northern Lights! If arriving into Edinburgh or Glasgow why not hire a campervan/motorhome and explore the great outdoors. The NC500 (North Coast 500) route is a very scenic and picturesque driving route around the highlands of Scotland, with castles, mountains and lochs. There are also great opportunities to see the Northern Lights on the Scottish Islands; such as Harris and Lewis, Orkney and Shetland.

Wonders of the Northern Skies ©Maciej Winiarczyk

Phone Apps

The best way to keep up to date with solar flares from the Sun, and weather updates is with phone apps.  I have Aurora Watch UK which not only gives you accurate real time forecasts, but also a 30 minute ovation model. I have also downloaded Aurora Alerts Northern Lights, which you can select which notifications you would like to receive and for what area you are located.

Northern Lights Scotland, Aurora at Your Fingertips ©Sky & Telescope
Aurora at Your Fingertips ©Sky & Telescope

I hope you have enjoyed reading about the Northern Lights Scotland; and it has inspired you to visit and see the great magical phenomenon. As always we would love to hear from you, please leave any comments/questions below. Happy Travels:) x

About MichelleDeansHarding


 Michelle has a love of travel and photography, which has currently taken her to six continents. Experiencing other cultures/history and food both independently and while working on-board luxury cruise ships. Discover more about Michelle, her enthusiasm for travel and photography via:

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