For centuries, many myths and legends have surrounded these mysterious lights but the bright, dancing illuminations of the ‘Aurora Borealis’, are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun which enter the earth’s atmosphere at magnetic north pole. Auroral displays appear in shades of red, yellow, green, blue, and violet, though pale green and pink are most commonly seen in this region. The lights appear in many forms from patches or scattered clouds of light to streamers, arcs, rippling curtains or shooting rays that light up the sky with an eerie glow.
They can be viewed in northern locations such as Canada, Alaska, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Siberia and occasionally in Scotland and the north of Ireland.
As the Aurora Borealis is most visible against a dark sky, winter is the best season in which to hunt the Northern Lights. This is when Ireland has the longest hours of darkness. However, cloud cover, artificial light from towns and even the reflected light of the moon will all serve to obscure or dim the glorious ethereal display.
Here are our top dark locations in Inishowen.
- The most northerly point in Ireland therefore arguably the best location to witness the Northern Lights as it is geographically the closest to the magnetic north pole. There is parking available at Banba’s Crown and very little artificial light. Nearby is the raised beach of Ballyhillion where you can watch the skies whilst listening to the boom of the Atlantic waves rolling in.
- Mamore Gap, one of main sights of the Inishowen 100, offers total blackout conditions and a fine panorama of northeast to northwest views. Located more than 240m (800ft) above sea level at the summit of a spectacular mountain pass, the sheltered gap has a car park and uninterrupted views of the northern sky.
- The promontory fort is located about 11km (7 miles) north of the nearest town, Buncrana. Dunree Head has low light conditions and long, clear northward views. There is a car park in front of the Military Museum and a beautiful beach close by. It is easy to reach and there are plenty of nature walks nearby if you arrive before dark.
- On the eastern side of the peninsula Inishowen Head offers perfect darkness and views over the mouth of the Lough Foyle to Northern Ireland and the Atlantic toward the north western isles of Scotland. There is parking at Dunagree Point and a lovely small beach just over 1km away at Stroove.
If you capture any photos of the Northern Lights that you would like to share, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
and on your behalf, we will show them off to the world!