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LATEST SKY EVENTS

Updated October 28th 2014

The Longest Night TV Show - BBC1 Monday Nov 3rd - NEWS

I will be featured on a brand new television program called 'True North - The Longest Night' which will be aired on BBC1 on Monday November 3rd at 22.35. This program was conceived by the award winning film and television production company called Alleycats which involved spending the entire night with individuals with unusual jobs across N. Ireland throughout the night hours, the event was filmed on December 21st 2013 on the Winter Solstice hence 'The Longest Night' title. On that exciting night two crew members followed me (with Roisin) to the Co. Antrim coast on an all-night dusk to dawn storm chase starting at Downhill Beach and ending at Ballintoy Harbour where we encountered strong winds, stars, Iridium flares, moonlit convection, sleet, big waves and ocean lightning. It was quite an adventure as we battled against the elements, our desire to sleep, and even a mechanical breakdown. I have a very detailed image report ready documenting this entire adventure as well as several other storm chasing nights at the same location leading up the main night of filming which I will post online when the show airs so make sure to check it out.

Glenshane Winter Road & Moonlit Glenariff Waterfalls Report - NEW

Glenshane Pass Winter Road & Moonlit Glenariff Waterfalls Report

Feb 14th 2014 was an action-packed afternoon on Glenshane Pass when my Dad and I were involved in a que packed with several hundred vehicles with spun-out trucks trapped in the snow and ice on this famous winter road. This was quickly followed that very same night by a photo shoot to Glenariff Forest Park in Co. Antrim where photographer Paul Martin and I photographed the beautiful waterfalls under the surreal light of an almost full moon which made for a magical and eerie experience. One page report with 14 images. - REPORT. * A report from earlier in the season which I'm only getting online now.

Antrim Coast Storm Chase Video Footage - Oct 21st

I went storm chasing to the Co. Antrim coast to watch and photograph the effects of Ex-Hurricane Gonzalo which was now an Atlantic storm and the first of its kind this season so I just had to get out and document the action. I left in the morning since the strongest winds were expected after the cold front during the post-frontal airmass and were due to peak during the early afternoon. Although this storm was not noteworthy for being highly convective there was a surprising number of lightning strikes over the N and NW coasts during the early morning hours and this showery activity was expected for the rest of the day. I encountered a brief but brilliant hail storm outside Coleraine which was very cool then I arrived at the coast and was highly surprised by the chaotic state of the sea on view. Large swells and waves were not expected with this storm however the sight of the ocean was quite astonishing with moderate to large waves with very deep troughs and large swells, the sea was covered in white horses on top of a stunning metallic green surface of churning madness.

I encountered strong gusts of wind and impressive wave action, in fact, I was quite taken back by how good it looked, the sea was highly agitated and thrashing and wild and I was enjoying every minute of it. I ended up observing and taking images and video from several locations throughout the day however it was Dunseveric harbour which got my thumbs up as the most severe and spectacular location along the coastline from what I experienced. The ocean was beautiful, thrilling and also frightening. This was my third storm chase with my new Berlingo van and it got a good battering from water, salt, sand, dirt, leaves and who knows what else, it was a mess and I christened the inside of the cap when I put down the window to shoot waves and ended up with hail stones blasting inside. I spent hours on location and had to admit that despite the media nonsense this storm was much more impressive than I had thought, I mean this on a visual level, I measured the wind speed with a hand held anemometer and got a gust at 38 mph however I was in a semi-sheltered location at the time and I wasn't going mad with the device since I was in photography mode, however on higher ground near Dunluce castle the wind was considerably stronger and I suspect there were gusts in the 50mph range. I have seen low pressure systems with stronger winds and deeper centres than this however this storm really stirred up the sea into spectacular fashion and beat several other past storms for visual excitement so I was rather pleased with its performance.

11 min long video clip of the wave action from Portstewart, Portballintrae, Dunseveric then Ballintoy. Best to view this in HD with the volume turned up to hear the crashing waves and screeching wind. Some of this was filmed with my trusty Samsung video camera however from 1 min 50 sec's onward there are sections filmed with my Canon 600D DSLR and 100-400mm lens which really do the scenes some justice, the quality is much better and you can really sense the dramatic depth to the waves charging in, the end clip almost makes me duck.

Sunset Gallery Update - NEW

Sunset Gallery

I have just updated the Nightskyhunter Sunset Gallery with the latest imagery from last Sunday's sunset photo shoot on the north coast, these and several other images can be viewed on there documenting this truly beautiful sunset sky show.

5am Lunar Fog Bow Encounter On Glenshane Pass Report - NEW

Lunar Fog Bow On Glenshane Pass Report

At 03.00 on October 9th 2014 I drove to the top of Glenshane Pass in the hope of seeing lightning from distant storms over the Irish Sea however what I didn't expect was the manifestation of a beautiful and rare lunar fog bow. This was the first time I had ever captured a true lunar fog bow on camera and much to my great surprise the phenomena remained visible for almost one hour. I ended up having a thrilling night observing and photographing this ghostly bow all to myself from a field on this vast mountain with the surreal moonlit hills, stars and planet Jupiter for company. One page report with 6 images. - REPORT.

'Your Place & Mine' BBC Radio Ulster Interview - NEW

This is a recording of my interview with Anne-Marie McAleese for 'Your Place & Mine' on BBC Radio Ulster which was recorded at Drumlamph woodland outside Maghera and featured on the radio last Saturday morning. This was a very fun chat out in nature about my passion for aurorae, the night sky, storms and photography. Thanks very much for checking it out.

Fanad Head Lighthouse Photo Shoot Report - NEW

Fanad Head Lighthouse Night Sky & Star Trails Report

Our first trip and night time photo shoot at the famous Fanad Head Lighthouse on the Co. Donegal coastline with my girlfriend Roisin Laverty and photography mate Paul Martin on Sept 27th 2014. We spent hours at this beautiful location doing photography and observing the exceptional dark and transparent night sky which boasted stunning views of the Milky Way, green airglow and even a faint aurora complimented by night landscape imagery of the lighthouse with three star trail captures. Fantastic night with 4 hours and 180 miles on the road. One page report with 12 images & 1 video clip. - REPORT.

N. Ireland Storm Chasing Image Reports

N. Ireland Storm Chasing

Astronomy is not the only subject I'm interested in. One other such area is severe weather which will be playing a major role on nightskyhunter from now on in conjunction with my other astronomical pursuits. Check out my new N. Ireland Storm Chasing section and view the chase reports and images which detail not only storms but other phenomena such as a moonbows, noctilucent clouds and aurora displays.

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Martin McKenna

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