A budding Cavan photographer has captured stunning images of a celestial showcase rarely seen in these parts.
As much of the county was ringing in the New Year, Julie Corcoran of Northlands, Shercock, was outside in the frosty dead of night poised for the all important click of her camera as she tried to grab a shot of the outcome of the solar storm that hit Earth on December 30 and 31.
Having been tipped off to the occurrence of a potential Aurora Borealis, otherwise known as the Northern Lights, by one of a number of alert websites, she set up her equipment, a Canon 1100D, in her back garden in east Cavan.
“I received the notification that the Aurora may be visible in parts of UK, US, Canada, Ireland and other European countries situated in the higher latitudes,” Julie explained to The Anglo-Celt. “Very occasionally, I would get a message saying the Aurora might be seen, so this time I was determined to get it. I set up my tripod in the back garden, pointed the camera north and with a slow shutter speed of 10 seconds. It wasn’t until I got back into the house and plugged my camera back into the computer that I was able to discover what was actually in the pictures.”
The New Year Eve’s Northern Lights show was triggered by a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) caused by the eruption of a large sunspot (AR2473) on December 28, arriving at Earth early on December 31. The eruption gave rise to a slow M1.9-class solar flare with a geomagnetic storm KP index of around seven. The average KP index is between one to three.
“It was totally invisible to the naked eye. I could just about make out a very slight greenish glow in the skyline when I was standing outside, so I was amazed to see what the photographs turned up,” says Julie.
Julie is a member of the Breffni Photography Club, which held an exhibition of work at the County Museum in Ballyjamesduff before Christmas, and are set to meet again at the Lakeside Manor, Virginia later this month. She only began to take her hobby of photography seriously in the past 12 months.
Her recent photographs of the Aurora Borealis have garnered widespread attention across social media forums.
“I’m delighted with how the pictures came out. There are people who travel to places like Iceland and north of Norway to see the Aurora and come back having seen nothing, so to have captured an image like that outside my home here in Cavan is incredible,” says Julie.