Sunday 12 May 2024

Northern Lights - Once in a Lifetime Territory

I genuinely believe I'll be dead next time there's a geomagnetic storm of this strength. It was utterly, utterly ridiculous. I'd been excited about Friday/Saturday since all the flare activity on Wednesday, with some nicely directed CMEs, well before any of the space weather agencies put out any of their predictions and the media got hold of it. I'd been talking this up on my socials well in advance, which is always a risk as nothing is guaranteed in this game; a lot of factors need to align. Thankfully everything went to plan and I didn't have masses of angry people asking why they didn't see it haha. 

2 x 1 hr naps between 3 all-nighters Thursday - Sunday (I work weekends as well). Sleep deprived does not cover it. Was it worth it? You tell me. Thousands of photos to go through, but here's one of them. Aurora was EVERYWHERE. North, corona overhead, SAR arc, even South. Bonkers.

Oh yeah, had Nightjars churring and a Cuckoo calling whilst I was there.

Wednesday 8 May 2024

228+ Red Kites from Colyton, Devon

A look at the forecast on Sunday and another look on Monday had me thinking Tuesday would be a strong candidate as the day the Kites pass us. I suggested to my Dad that we should try and keep Tues free and perhaps Weds/Thurs too, and oh boy was it the right call. Tuesday was THE day. The day of 228 Red Kites seen from Colyton, with almost certainly dozens and dozens more missed.

50-60 of them were overhead but most were gaining extreme height in thermals north of Colyton then heading W / WSW. Observing was rather challenging with hours spent looking through optics as they were mostly too distant to see naked eye. When they rode thermals up into and above clouds, that didn't help either.

A bonus Osprey over Colyton was nice too. Today (Weds) saw another 3 Kites and 2 Hobby from Colyton, and then another Osprey north over the A3052 in the afternoon. I've been seeing Goshawk, as well as the usual Buzzards, Kestrels, Sparrowhawks and Peregrines recently too. I've been quietly hoping for something better like a Honey Buzzard or Black Kite... Gotta have some optimism for birding whilst my astro is at a total stand still (far East Devon has been by FAR the cloudiest part of the entire UK at night-time over the last 20 months, and it's not even remotely close. I have astro buddies all over the UK so I get a pretty good idea). Us astro-folk are good at whining about our weather, in case you hadn't noticed (some justified a lot more than others mind).

Whilst we're on the subject of astro (sort of), the Sun has been extremely active recently, with dozens and dozens of flares. I'm expecting there to be northern lights visible this weekend, there's a very good chance depending when the CMEs (coronal mass ejections) hit. Of course I'm forecast cloudier than most of the UK... but try I shall. I'm predicting activity in the early hours of Saturday morning, and perhaps activity Saturday night into Sunday.

Here's the Sun, taken today. The cloud actually helped for this, I didn't blind myself or melt my camera, so that's a plus.