Hot on the heels of my last blog entry is another Aurora experience to share on my blog page. The Aurora Borealis, more commonly known as the Northern Lights, made it's last appearance of 2015 and a first for 2016, a spectacle that coincided with a firework display at midnight to see in the new year. And what an experience it was! Throughout the day of December 31st, Aurora prediction alerts were bombarding my mobile phone via an app, grabbing my attention once again. Being New Years Eve and all, any chance of getting out with the camera would usually be a bit tricky due to other commitments, but this time round no plans were made in advance, so a couple of hours were spent on the causeway at St. Mary's Lighthouse, Whitley Bay, in anticipation of seeing a show that was worthy of a New Year's Eve/Day spectacular. And it certainly didn't disappoint. What a way to see in the new year. Does it get much better than this?
Well, once again it was a case of 'Suck it and see'. My last blog entry covered the 'Dunstanburgh Aurora Chase' that never really materialised, despite the KP8 predictions and the BZ reading hitting South in a massive way. So would the New Year;s Eve bash follow suit? Time to find out. Upon arrival I was amazed to see the car park almost empty, but when checking out the night sky it quickly beacame apparent as to why that was. The clouds were calling all the shots once again as the weather front ruled. At this point I'm thinking 'Aye...here we go again, Dunstanburgh part 2'. The wind was strong too, as I stood at the causeway at high tide, looking across to the Lighthouse. A northerly direction held no clues at this point as to whether the Aurora was about to kick off. Above the horizon it was completely clouded out and I wasn't too impressed. another photographer showed up at this point - Jake Cook. We chatted for a while, which was the only option, before heading back to our cars to play the waiting game. It was nice to get out of the cold for a while, with the heaters on full pelt, checking Facebook for any Aurora sightings in the area. Twenty minutes passed and suddenly there was a loud knock on my car window. Why man.....ah neely shat me'sel!!!!!! It was Jake Cook, I rolled the window down and he showed me a photo on his camera that he had just taken. The Aurora was showing. That was it. Leaving our cars behind we were back on the causeway within a matter of seconds!
Within twenty minutes a green glowing arc could be seen on the horizon, stretching across the sky behind the lighthouse. The camera was working at this point. Can't be missing any of the action eh. The word Aurora must have spread quickly, as car after car arrived at St. Mary's. It wasn't long before the place was crawling with photographers, all keen to bag a slice of the action. A few of them joined us on the causeway, including Alison Leddy, who I hadn't previously met but had seen many of her fine photographs on the TV and internet. I did have one previous 'encounter' with Alison back in 2014 - click here to find out all about it.
On the stroke of midnight the sky was filled with fireworks and everyone around wished eachother a Happy New Year. The noise from the fireworks added to the atmosphere as well as the obvious colour in the sky behind us. However, the midnight firework spectacle that was got out played by the Aurora to the north. What was the chance of that happening? This was undoubtedly the most eye-catching Aurora chase I've been involved in during my relatively short 18 months involvement in the game. It doesn't come any better than this - does it? And on that note I shallwith everyone a belated Happy New Year. All the best!