Aurora over Swinford October 2015

I got another chance to view and photograph the Aurora over Swinford last night, or should I say early this morning! Thanks to Anne Marie for tipping me off about this recent spectacular show of the Northern Lights as there’re also know. I was at a meeting and missed the first showing, which was over Kp 7 from around 9 or 10 o’clock last night.

aurora in Swinford at 1am 23-june-2015

Aurora at 1 am 8-October-2015. (via

I kept a close eye on the live Aurora forecast and to my delight the Kp shot up over 7 again. A Kp index over 7 should mean we’ll be able to see the Aurora over Swinford, clear skies permitting of course!

Aurora Kp index

Aurora Kp index

Around 1 am the Kp went over 7 again, so I grabbed the camera bag and headed for high ground up near Knock Airport. I had a better view of the Aurora this time, compared to the last time I tried to shoot them last June.

Aurora over Swinford October 2015

Photo : f/2.8, 25 sec, ISO-1600, @ 18 mm.

I had lens set to manual focus, focused just off infinity. Unfortunately it was slightly off, which is very hard to see in the pitch black! Still, its another lesson learned, tape the lens with masking tape when focus is set!

Aurora over Swinford October 2015

Photo: f/2.8, 30 sec, ISO-1600, @ 18 mm.

The orange glow to the bottom right of the photos is the lights from Charlestown. I just caught the end of this showing of the Aurora, it got stronger again around 4 am but I didn’t hang around for it. Hopefully we will get another show tonight though we could be hampered here in Mayo with cloud cover.

The Aurora which is more commonly known as “The Northern Lights” is quite a common natural occurrence. It is caused by “Class X Solar Flares” and “Class M Solar Flares” from the Sun. These are huge solar explosions on the surface of the Sun, many thousands times bigger and stronger than a nuclear bomb. These happen mostly daily, but depending on the size and direction of the solar flares that determains the size and strength of the Aurora on Earth, which is measured as Kp, eg. Kp 1 to Kp 9. The Aurora needs to be at least Kp-7 or above to get a fairly decent view of the Aurora over SWinford here in Mayo. Last night it was Kp 7.33 at 1 am.

You can view the Aurora live here;

You can view the space weather forecast here;

Michael Maye
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