Aurora surprise for Whitby stargazers

James Hewitson's picture of the northern lights seen over the pier ends in Whitby last night
James Hewitson's picture of the northern lights seen over the pier ends in Whitby last night

The Northern Lights made an appearance over Whitby last night - just in time for Christmas.

James Hewitson captured these terrific photos of the aurora borealis, seen above the piers and Saltwick Nab.

They made for a pleasant surprise for local anglers out fishing for the Whitby Sea Anglers’ Association’s Christmas match.

The lights are caused by energetic particles from the Sun being pulled into our atmosphere by the Earth’s magnetic field and hitting atoms in the atmosphere, causing light to be given off.

They were seen from Whitby to the Wolds, from Filey to Thixendale, and we have compiled a slideshow of photos emailed to us by our readers.

Although the lights are fairly unusual this far south, James has the following photographic advice for any would-be aurora spotters.

“The settings I used are-shutter speed - 5 seconds - aperture f/2.8 - ISO 3,200,” he said.

“Your camera sensor can see more than a human eye.

“All you have to do is to make it more sensitive, hence the high ISO and the wide open aperture.

“Try and keep your shutter speed below 10 seconds, this gives a more sharper image of the lights.

“And post processing helps to bring out more detail and colour.”

Last night’s display was also seen down the coast in Scarborough and as far south as Manchester.

For information on possible displays, visit http://aurorawatch.lancs.ac.uk/