Updated October 17th 2014
* A real risk of severe weather across Ireland and N. Ireland from Friday evening into Friday night ahead of and along a cold front and trough associated with a deep Atlantic depression. Models indicate insane speed shear and turning along with enough instability for a strong convective event being possible. If one or more strong cells can form embedded within the front then powerful downdraughts, large hail and strong tornadoes are possible with or without thunder and lightning, the environment is also favourable for supercells - this merits close watching!
Moderate Risk of Thunderstorms Ireland with near Severe Gusts 15z-03z
Slight Risk of Tornadoes 18z-00z
Brief outlook today due to work commitments.
Relatively deep and broad low pressure moves steadily eastward through today. Upper short wave trough expected to exert its influence slowly from SE. Strong diffluent upper jet stream overruns surface cold front and is expected to strengthen lift within the mid levels in line with the front left exit region. Strong low level environmental shear will exist with moderate CAPE. This combined with some very low LCL's would suggest one or two brief but potentially strong tornadoes possible. From Tony Gilbert via UKweatherworld.
Valid: Fri 17 Oct 2014 06:00 to Sat 18 Oct 2014 06:00 UTC
Issued: Thu 16 Oct 2014 21:31
A level 1 was issued for Ireland and Western Scotland mainly for severe wind gusts and tornados.
Ireland and Western Scotland...
...the frontal system coming from the main low which has its center west of Ireland with a central pressure below 970 hPa is influencing this region. In the second half of the forecast period the occlusion/cold front is arriving in Ireland and most parts of Great Britain. A few hundred J/kg are forecasted for the passage of the front as well as for the following cold sector. Thus, several thunderstorms should develop. The main threat with this convection are severe wind gusts since mid-level winds are rather high (850 hPa: up to 50 kn). In addition one or two tornados are possible since LLS is quite strong (0 - 1 km: about 15 m/s) and LCLs are only between 400 and 800 m. Source: ESTOFEX.
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. The above is one of the more unusual images from the set showing the 'God of the Sea' statue summoning the sun which was in the process of setting behind the hills of Donegal with wonderful colouring on the clouds above with reflections on Lough Foyle and all captured from Binevenagh mountain were the visual sight was terrific.
Roisin, my Mother and I were enjoying a relaxing day in Portstewart on the Co. Antrim coast on Sunday and after several hours of walking and enjoying tea on the promenade I began to get a feeing that there was going to be an excellent sunset. The sky was grey all day with sunny spells with low level and mid level broken cloud with a clear horizon extending all the way from the NE to SW and I suspected that once the sun lowered into the clear sector that cloud deck could light up into a wonderful sunset sky show. We decided to change location and for some reason I felt an impulse to watch the sunset from a more remote location so guided only by instincts we drove to Downhill then advanced upwards until we reached the top of Binevenagh Mountain beside the 'God of the Sea' statue, then as we watched a beautiful sunset spectacle unfolded. The sun appeared in the clear sector just as anticipated and proceeded to illuminate the under side of the clouds. This was the scene with the sun setting over the mountains of Donegal with a wonderful golden glitter path reflecting on Lough Foyle.
This was with the 100-400mm lens, the lough was so still and serene that there was hardly a ripple and it was this peaceful state which made the water behave like a mirror reflecting that beautiful sun on the surface, the glitter path was stunning and of pure gold, we were mesmerized.
I simply had to take a close telephoto shot of the glitter path on the lough. The entire show sported pink, red and gold colours and it made for a magical experience from the top of this mountain, it felt like we were all participating in a fairy tale produced and directed by nature, what a show to end the day. I have many more images to sort through and will add more this week to the Sunset Gallery.
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.
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.
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.
I did a photo shoot last night at the Co. Antrim coast to take advantage of the best and only clear night of the week so far and with a first quarter moon low in the SW I knew I could use its natural light to illuminate foreground then take advantage of truly dark skies once it set. My goal was star trails however there was also a healthy looking aurora oval before sunset so I suspected than an auroral glow along the horizon couldn't be ruled out too. I arrived just as twilight was surrendering to astronomical darkness so I immediately began the climb down the old steps beside Dunluce Castle then detoured onto the grassy slope away from the path and found an angle I have always liked from past adventures here. There was no aurora so I got to work on star trails and managed to get several attempts using the 10mm lens however I was not happy with the results so I made my way down the steep slope to a better angle and attached the Canon 24-70mm F/2.8, zoomed in a little to frame the two haunted towers then began my trail. I got off to a slow start due to a faulty cable release then another with a loose connection (time to buy more) then I had to wait for a formation of moonlit contrails to clear the area then the first proper trail of the night was underway.
I hunched down in the grass and waited, the only noise was the click of my camera every 30 sec's, the night sky was beautiful and the weak moonlight combined with the headlights from random passing cars illuminated the old stone bricks on the castle towers to perfection and I had a feeling that I was going to get a nice end result. I saw lights suddenly appear on the steps, until this point I was alone and had the entire place to myself however now I could see two people with a camera taking images of the castle too and unfortunately they kept sweeping their lights over the castle walls which ended up ruining my star trail when I was less than a quarter of the way through the shoot so I packed up and left the area. Above is the aborted result.
You don't need to use torches and headlights at Dunluce, this is one of the single 30 sec frames from the star trail shoot with the towers lit by a passing car, you can't ask for much better than that and the colour is nice and warm to contrast with the cooler sky, looks nice I think. I must retry this again another time with full star trail.
I drove to the Giant's Causeway visitors centre then parked to have a brew and a snack to warm up while watching the moon lower into the horizon haze sporting an impressive large size due to the moon illusion effect then it was gone and the night was suddenly thrust into darkness and the stars seemed richer and brighter than ever. I glanced behind me and saw a very cool looking building which I had never noticed before, I'm certain I had seen it before in daytime however it had never jumped out at me before at night until now, I was instantly drawn to it and decided to investigate. This was the Causeway School Museum, I entered the grounds and made my way across the pitch black eerie garden adjacent to it and found a nice view so I set up the 10mm and began shooting a star trail while I went back to the van to wait. After 40 min's had passed I went back into the dark shadows and noticed that the red light wasn't on my camera, as it turned out it had only taken one image and no others during that entire time, it was that darn cable release again, in the dark I had mixed them up and used the faulty one, I was so frustrated that I almost packed up and went home however I decided to give it one more try with the new cable, this time it worked and here is the result which I'm rather pleased with. I love the creepy shadows of the tree branches cast onto the white walls, also the old tower on the roof and steps with rails at the back, I loved this old building and was glad I had found it, I have never taken images here before in my life so it felt great to shoot something different and new. I called it a night and drove the 40 plus miles back home feeling content.
One of my personal favourite night sky images re-done with noise reduction applied. This was the April 2012 G2 geomagnetic storm captured over the legendary Giant's Causeway with Roisin Laverty on an unforgettable night of exceptional aurora activity. I recall descending slippery rocks which felt like walking on black ice with the sea lapping at my tripod legs and occasionally rising over my boots and soaking my socks and jeans however it was worth the wait to get this image just as the aurora went into its first outburst of the night. A vivid green band crossed the horizon then a proud formation of pink and purple beams shot skyward like coloured pillars of light among the stars reaching 80 degrees tall, I took this exposure with the 18mm kit lens just as Roisin swept the famous 60 million year old rocks with a golden torch beam - and this was the result. This is why I love hunting the aurora - you never know what you are going to see and the photographic results can be epic when it all comes together. A fond memory which shall never be forgotten, I'm proud of this image - not just for what it shows - but because it is the result of both my energy and Roisin's energy all together in harmony.
* This image and any of the images on the website are available to purchase as photo prints of any size (including large format) and canvas products so please email me if you are interested in ordering a copy. All my work can be viewed in the Reports Section or via the new Nightskyhunter Stock Gallery, thanks for viewing.
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.