A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Monday, 20 April 2015

Hooptedoodle #171 - Auroras and Pandas

I live in East Lothian, in South East Scotland, on a farm, and there is a north-facing beach about 200 yards behind my house, on the other side of a wooded hill, at the point where the Firth of Forth meets the North Sea.

We have very low light pollution here, and big skies, and we regularly get alerts to watch out for the old Northern Lights, the Aurora. Our situation should be ideal, but we've never seen them/it. Once my son and I dashed down to the beach at about 11pm, armed with binoculars and camera, and found it was actually foggy down there. I once did a similar midnight sortie and found it was snowing. The only time I've ever seen the Aurora, in fact, was from an overnight flight back from Canada years ago. Since then, not even a glimmer.

The picture at the top is not mine, it is borrowed from a very nice Facebook site called Edinburgh & Beyond Photography, which is a worth a visit, and it was taken from our own beach, right here, on 16th April. The dark blobs on the picture are, from left to right, the cliffs at Seacliff, a headland called The Gegan and the Bass Rock (complete with automated lighthouse) - it's all very familiar to us. We, of course, were in Edinburgh, miles away, and saw none of this. Knew nothing at all about it until we saw the picture online.

We'll see it one day, that's for sure - the picture at least confirms that it is a possibility. Our Aurora-watching history puts me in mind of a cherished TV commercial from yesteryear...


  1. I live in Canada and the only time I've ever seen the northern lights was, ironically, almost as far south as one can get and not be in the US, and it was during a Civil War reenactment, ironically. I was looking at tourism websites for Iceland and they offer a number of northern lights tours, though no guarantees that you'll see any aurora.

  2. I don't know how to say this b6t, I'm not convinced those are real Pandas. Been to Alaska, Baffin Island and Hudson Bay but the only times I have seen the Aurora it was as a kid outside Montreal, low in the sky.

  3. I always associate the Lights with Bill Bryson's hilarious tale of his visit to Lillyhammer - we are told they exist, we have seen pictures, but...

    Like Santa Claus? Or the moon landings? Or East Lothian Council road-gritting wagons in Winter?

    As for the pandas, what do you mean? In fact, that's another fantasy shattered. I am pretty sure that guy isn't a real photographer, either, and I've never seen a real KitKat that unwraps as cleanly as that. In fact, the thing which stretches credibility the most for me is that the TV advert dates from 1987 - an incredible 28 years ago - where the heck did that go?

  4. I think aurora tours are rather like whale watching tours. The tour operator does their best, but they can only promise, while nature delivers. However, I did once hit the whale watching jackpot and met a large humpback that was the size of a large bus. It was a real humpback, I am sure, whereas I agree with Ross, I don't think those are real pandas. And yes, I too remember that commercial well. It wasn't that long ago ....