Updated June 17th 2013
Friday saw the first serious storm forecast of the year across UK and Ireland with a risk of organised thunderstorms across N. Ireland, tornadoes in England, and supercell thunderstorms across the Republic of Ireland during evening and night hours, however the latter didn't work out due to slow movement of the front and lack of lift however a few thunderstorms did break out around the border and N. Ireland. I was out on my own as soon as the first precip/showers/cells formed on radar and watched from the high ground outside Swatragh, there was a lot of dramatic dark clouds and scud hinting at some potential despite no great structures. I went on a second chase with my Dad on Glenshane Pass and together we watched a nasty looking cell approach from Slieve Gallion with solid dark updraught base which passed rite over the top of us without any rumbles then I returned home.
Later in the afternoon I thought it was game over as the next frontal system was rite on me and about to hit, however amazingly a strong cell formed on the radar with red returns, I mean it formed rite on the edge of the boundary and got some forcing as the front moved into the area, it looked great when I spotted it from my window so I immediately got in the car and drove to a country location to shoot it. Here it was at 16.00 to the E of Maghera, the cell was brutal looking with white solid tops and huge solid black sloping base that was so low to the ground it seemed to almost touch the fields, there were also towers shooting out from the rear end of it, I kept shooting images through the open driver's window, it looked impressive visually however it was difficult to portray that on camera. It moved across the road ahead of me then got pushed N and W, it should have been moving SW to NE however interaction from the front changed that. When it moved over the Sperrins it produced a cluster of c-g lightning.
Here's a very short video clip of that cell, wish I had taken more footage however I was concentrating more on still images. There where a few more lightning strikes in SE Antrim then the front hit and it rained all night long, I was glad I made the effort to catch the brief cells which did form, this one was the best structure-wise however I am still waiting on a proper storm set-up which I hope will arrive soon.
Thought I would quickly post this image taken on the night of June 9th during the recent amazing Noctilucent Cloud display which was observed across a large portion of N. Europe. This was a stunning display from N. Ireland which lasted all night long with beautiful structure which was changing by the second and morphing into different forms in real time. I took many images from this night and for fun I wanted to post this one taken at 02.00 BST from the main carriageway outside Cookstown looking N at the electric blue NLCs glowing brightly, I was deliberately shooting car trails for this scene however the above image was an accident, I saw this late night lorry with bright headlights fast approach the camera, normally I would stop my shooting and let it pass as the headlights would blow out the image or create large lens flares, however this time I let the exposure run and this was the final result which I thought was kind of cool. When the truck roared past me at very close range (I was on the edge of the shoulder) I felt a strong rush of air as it passed which almost blew the tripod over, you can almost feel this from looking at the image. I often wonder what late night solo drivers, truckers, police, and taxi drivers think when they see these amazing clouds glowing in the Summer night sky, no doubt many have seen them and wondered what they were and just as many have mistakened them for the aurora. In any case more displays are likely any night so make sure to check out the Nightskyhunter NLC article to learn more about what to look for.
N. Ireland was in the middle of a heat wave and I was meant to be storm chasing on June 5th 2013 when I got distracted on the road by distant smoke so I changed my plans and chased after this instead. In the Co. Tyrone area between Omagh and Cookstown I encountered the largest inland gorse fire of the season which would rage all day long extending 5 miles in length and battled by 50 fire fighters. The fire was nasty and exhibited spectacular smoke plumes which generated rare pyrocumulus clouds followed by rotating smokenadoes, if this wasn't enough I also observed a horse shoe vortex and 3 dust devils near Beaghmore Stone Circles making for an action packed, exciting, and very hot photo shoot. One page report with 25 images and 1 video clip. - REPORT.
Photography is what I do full time as a living. The energy, fuel, money, and lack of sleep involved in getting images of storms, NLCs, auroras etc is quite incredible at times, one has to put up with a lot of failed chases and let downs in order to get the best sky phenomena on camera. To do this best requires relentless dedication and a never give up attitude, however this all comes at a price so I am sure you will understand and won't mind if on occasion I post about print sales as money from these sales helps me with fuel, running this site, and pays for any new imagery on here. I have images available for licensing and I can get professional quality photo prints made at most sizes for anyone interested.
A3 photo prints = £35.00 including post & packaging within the UK * however I can sell worldwide if the extra postage is covered for all products.
A2 photo prints = £45.00
A1 photo prints = £100.00
I can also do huge A0 and smaller print sizes and if you want to pay extra I can get prints mounted for you too along with canvas products. If you are interested just drop me an email. You can view all my work via the links below...
Images per year - everything I have in report format - storms, NLCs, auroras, comets, snow etc...
Nightskyhunter stock gallery - still work in progress however when completed it will showcase all I have...
I have been very busy doing a lot of photography lately by day covering many miles in the hot sun and again at night hunting NLCs so I am now very tired and burnt out, I had to sit out an NLC display on Sunday night because I needed to recover and get some rest. The NLC display which appeared on Saturday night however I did catch and it was beautiful and I photographed it for much of the night from the carriageway between Cookstown and Desertmartin and through narrow country roads. I couldn't find any cool foreground objects so I simply shot the electric blue clouds over the roads and managed to get a few car trails in the process.
On high ground looking down onto the small town/village of Desertmartin with NLCs glowing in the sky complimented by car trails
The NE section was remarkable, the entire display extended across the NW to NE sky and was without question the best display of the season to date, this night boasted every type of NLC structure in the classification - small and large scale whirls, sharp bands, herringbone, veil, knots, lacunosus holes - and also a few complex twisting structures I have never seen before. Got many images from this shoot, it was a rather exciting night driving around the dark roads with my partner with the NLCs lighting up the sky through the windscreen and when we where heading S I could see them in both rear view mirrors at the same time.
A few nights earlier and another all-night session, no NLCs this time however I did pick up a faint trace of aurora and captured this very bright pass of the ISS - International Space Station - at mag -3.0 which lasted for 6 min's, here it is at 10mm ultra wide angle crossing the mid Summer twilight sky using the tall trees in the Draperstown area. This was one of three passes this night however this one was the most photogenic, I almost got ate alive by midgets for hours! we have had amazing Summer weather for nearly two weeks, hot sunshine with temps between 22 and 25 degrees C, clear blue skies, intense sun, and very dry high pressure conditions with no rain.
Last night I observed the best NLC display of the season so far which became visible low in the N as a glowing wisp around midnight which then rapidly grew into a very big and bright display during the pre-dawn hours, in fact, I was able to observe some of the structure near 04.00 BST. I drove out to a local lake to get images and it was worth the effort. Seeing the NLCs reflecting on the calm water before dawn while fish occasionally broke the surface of the water with a ripple was magic. The display was type 4 brightness - a shadow caster with silver and blue colours sporting veil, soft and hard bands, herringbone and lacunosus holes structure, the herringbone seen through the binos and on the x5 live view was amazing.
Another all-night session, I wasn't in bed until 04.30, I came back with 100 images taken, these are two random images from the shoot, both were taken with the Canon 24-70mm F/2.8 lens which is exceedingly sharp. This is turning out to be an exceptional NLC season, displays have been detected earlier than ever before, bright complex displays have been observed too when usually one would have to wait until late June/July to get decent structures, all this bodes well for an amazing season to come, expect stunning shows in the very near future! - check out this new NLC article from NASA which includes an informative video clip.
On May 28th 2013 I completed my second storm chase to Co. Fermanagh which turned out to be my longest chase to date with 150 miles done and 11 hours on the road. The chase was an absolute success when I captured a large convergence zone funnel cloud in the direction of Enniskillen at 15.00 which lasted for 5 min's in duration. During the evening I met up with chaser Paul Martin and together we observed 3 more funnel clouds over Omagh which brought the count to 4 funnel captures in a single day. This was a great road trip with excellent weather and wonderful scenery. One page report with 15 images and 1 video clip. - REPORT.
I'm absolutely exhausted at the moment and haven't had much sleep and as I type this I'm getting the shivers and shakes so I need to get to bed for a few hours sleep. On May 24/25th Omagh photographer Paul Martin and I did a photo shoot at the Co. Antrim coast in hunt of NLCs and aurora however high level cloud obscured the event for us and we missed that sky action. We used the time well exploring the coast and doing an extended shoot of Dunluce Castle and were considering going home before dawn until we saw the potential for a nice sunrise, we shot the pre-dawn twilight from near the castle, then hit the Giant's Causeway, then back towards Portrush as it seemed to be fading, then suddenly the sky transformed into a stunning sight so we pulled into a car park and walked to the edge of a cliff to the document the event. We ended up getting rewarded with a long duration stunning pre-sunrise cloudscape with amazing pink, red, yellow, and blue colours which looked like brush strokes across a vast area of sky with colours which almost surrounded us, seeing the reds and blues reflecting on the calm ocean from near the edge of a huge cliff face was an epic experience.
I have many images of this event, here are just a few, Paul can be seen in the first two, the scene was like a water colour painting and the artist was mother nature herself.
Then the sun's disk rose above the flat ocean horizon which was simply spectacular, this is the first time we had observed and photographed an ocean sunrise, Dunluce Castle and the Giant's Causeway are visible to the R. We ended up doing an all-night shoot and didn't begin the drive back home until daytime. This sunrise was the event of the night for us and an experience which is difficult to describe in words, I know both of us will never forget this experience!. I came home with 217 images so I have a lot to work through, I might actually do a report for this night as soon as I can as it deserves to be recorded on the site.
I got some great video footage of this amazing sunrise taken with the video camera mounted on the tripod. The clip lasts over 14 min's in duration however you should watch it all to feel the experience we had and the changing light, cloud structures and colours, the clip climaxes near the end with a 3 min long section showing the actual disk of the sun rise over the horizon and climb into the sky with the sea all lit in stunning warm light, I hope you enjoy it.
Large report which begins with some of my early comet memories followed by the discovery and massive build up to the 2013 C/2011 L4 Pan-STARRS comet apparition. This report documents the hardships as I battled against cold and cloudy skies in search of this exciting new visitor which took me from Cookstown to Glenshane Pass and from frustration and sadness to spectacular thrills as the hunt climaxed with two unforgettable nights shooting this beautiful comet over the Co. Antrim coast with the amazing Pan-STARRS and M31 close conjunction showing off over the Giant's Causeway and Dunluce Castle. 34 images & 1 video clip - REPORT.
NSH Picture Of The Day - June 17th
N. Ireland Storm Chasing Image Reports
Astronomy is not the only subject I am 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.