Category: Stargazing

Nature’s fireworks

Streaking at break-neck speed across the sky, it’s easy to miss a meteor.  Blink and they’re gone. For a brief instant a speck of dust emitted from the Swift-Tuttle comet enters the Earth’s atmosphere.  It’s travelling at 37 miles (59 km) per second.  At this incredible speed the comet debris heats up the air around it, generating a burst of light as it hurtles … Read More Nature’s fireworks

Where are Scotland’s dark skies?

Can you remember the time you first looked up at the sky and were just amazed at the number of stars ?  I’m not talking about seeing a few dazzling stars on a cloudless night but about a star-studded panorama of the Milky Way that seems to reach right down to ground level.  In a really dark sky we could see as many as … Read More Where are Scotland’s dark skies?

We’re entering solar minimum

  If you have an interest in aurora watching you may have heard that we’re entering solar minimum: but what does this mean ? The sun doesn’t provide a constant stream of energy but exhibits phases of higher and lower intensity.  It tends to operate on an 11-year cycle and it is this cycle which has a significant bearing on the chances of seeing an … Read More We’re entering solar minimum

Top 10 essential apps for the Outdoors

A smartphone is an essential item of kit these days when you’re out for an adventure.  Enabled by a huge number of apps your phone is not only a camera, GPS, notebook, torch, musicplayer … but can also give you a map, weather forecast, emergency beacon, guide to nature and so much more. I’ve selected ten essential apps for the outdoors, a guide to … Read More Top 10 essential apps for the Outdoors

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Beinn Trilleachan wild camp

      Sometimes the planning pays off and it all comes together.  I’d been looking forward to a winter’s wild camp – camped on snow with a star-filled sky – for perhaps a year or two.  Beinn Trilleachan, at the head of Loch Etive, was to tick all of these boxes. This was a quick 24-hour trip, leaving home Saturday lunchtime and back in time for lunch … Read More Beinn Trilleachan wild camp

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Dancing lights over Scotland

Wednesday evening’s showing of the northern lights turned out to be one of the most impressive I’ve seen, being seen across Scotland, northern England and Wales. I hadn’t realised quite how strong the aurora might be.  I’d just watched the Bake Off final on TV (required family viewing in our household) before I checked the Solar Monitor app on my phone and looked out … Read More Dancing lights over Scotland

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An unexpected light show

Just when I’d been away walking for three days in the Lake District and was looking forward to catching up on my sleep I received various alerts mid-afternoon indicating a moderate solar storm was in progress.  Oh well, you can’t be too choosy when these things happen …  By just after 9pm it was fully dark and sure enough a test shot looking north … Read More An unexpected light show

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A night out with the stars

  Inspired by those wonderful night time photos of the milky way or meteors streaking across the sky I headed out for a night with the stars. I’m pretty much a novice when it comes to knowing how to properly use a camera.  Sure, I’m a dab hand with the various auto settings and am comfortable messing about ‘off piste’ with manual controls, but … Read More A night out with the stars

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Seeing the northern lights in August

Chasing the northern lights from the UK is a fickle business.  The impressive displays of lights overhead – the photos you normally see posted up from Alaska, Northern Canada or Northern Scandinavia – are rarely seen at lower latitudes.  Most of the time a diffuse auroral glow is about the best we get to see here in Central Scotland.  But I was lucky to … Read More Seeing the northern lights in August

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Shooting stars at the Devil’s Beeftub

“The Devil’s Bathtub, surely ?”, I said. “A tub to keep beef in ?“, my son offered, optimistically. It was while pondering the curious origins** of the dramatic 500-foot hollow in the hills above the small town of Moffat that we pulled up on the roadside.  We found a spot just where the boundaries of South Lanarkshire, Dumfries & Galloway and the Scottish Borders meet: quiet … Read More Shooting stars at the Devil’s Beeftub