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One of the most amazing things that you can potentially see in Scotland is the famous natural phenomenon, the Northern Lights.
Also known as Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights are green/purple coloured lights that dance across the sky and are often thought of as the holy grail of skywatching.
They are quite rare to see, at least in Scotland, but it’s not impossible if you know where to go. That’s where we come in, to try and help you get the best opportunity of spotting them.
Now don’t take everything we say as a certainty that you’ll see them. We’ve lived in Scotland our entire lives and have never seen them. Always missing them due to the cloud cover or the late hours when they normally make an appearance.
So a lot of the time it’s just doing the best you can to get into position and timing it right.
When can you see Northern Lights in Scotland?
The best time of year to see the Northern Lights in Scotland would have to be the Autumn/Winter months. Probably be between November and February.
The reason for this is due to the longer nights and clearer skies. These give the best conditions and the most opportunity for the lights to make an appearance.
Where can you see the Northern Lights in Scotland?
The general rule of thumb when it comes to spotting the Northern Lights in Scotland is to be as far north as you can and away from as much light pollution as possible.
The more remote the better.
One of our favourite spots to potentially see them is the Outer Hebrides. As you know it’s somewhere that we’re very familiar with and have written loads about on here.
With very little light pollution on the islands, it makes it an easier opportunity to see the Aurora Borealis when it does make an appearance and we’re quite often seeing photos/videos on social media of them being spotted.
Hopefully, on one of our trips over, we’ll get the chance, but we’ve not timed it right so far.
As far north as you can go in Scotland, you’re putting yourself in potentially the best position possible to see the lights.
Again, due to the uncertain nature of the lights, we would advise you to visit Shetland for other reasons than just to see the lights as you’ll potentially leave yourself disappointed. There’s still plenty to do on Shetland of course and although it’s somewhere that we’re yet to visit, it’s definitely on our list.
Another great location to visit that could offer some perfect conditions to see the Northern lights in Scotland would be Orkney.
A small set of islands just off the northern tip of mainland Scotland. These are sure to be prime spots with plenty of dark locations free from light pollution as well as being far enough north that you’ll hopefully have more chance of seeing them.
You can get to Orkney by plane or by ferry and whilst there, be sure to check out some of the neolithic sites on offer that are thousands of years old.
Heading a bit further south, one of the places closest to us here in Aberdeen that quite often gets lucky with spotting the Northern lights is the Moray Coast.
Now it’s a lot less common this far south, but that’s not to say it’s impossible.
Just make sure that if you are alerted to solar activity in the area you find a location away from bright city lights.
One of the aspects of the Moray coast that makes it a great place to see them is the large amounts of beaches along the coastline.
We’ve seen some incredible pictures appear online locally that people have taken from beaches in this area of the Northern Lights.
Now, these are some of the best spots that we know of to see them, but there’s probably plenty more.
The general rule of thumb is to be as far north as you can in the country and away from as much light pollution as possible. Then it’s just a case of adding in a sprinkling of luck and being in the right place at the right time.
To help make things easier for you, there’s an app that you can install that will give you notifications that there’s potential for seeing the Northern Lights. This should hopefully save any wasted dashes out to the countryside if you spot something on social media, something we’re all too familiar with.