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Shooting stars at Buncrana Camera Club 26.01.12

by Linda McGrory

PHOTOGRAPHY enthusiasts in Buncrana have become shooting stars thanks to the shimmering lights in the Donegal night sky.
The amateur snappers at Buncrana Camera Club have been out chasing the colourful Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, and have come up with some magnificent results.
Club chairman, Adam Porter, has seen one of his Aurora Borealis shots, featuring a fishing boat in Urris, Clonmany, carried in nearly every Irish national newspaper this week as well as global TV news channels.
"We're delighted, it's not only fantastic exposure for the camera club but also for Inishowen," he said, with no pun intended.
"When the sun ejects material it takes a few days to get to earth. Tuesday night was too cloudy to see the lights but I would say to people to make sure the forecast is good for clear skies. If it doesn't happen, then Inishowen is still a stunning place to visit," he said.
Buncrana photographers on trail of Aurora Borealis. > View more photos
The club has been out in force this week at Pollan Strand, Ballyliffin, Urris and Malin Head.
Inishowen is also enjoying a Northern Lights tourism boost with visitors planning to travel to the peninsula from all over the country.
But astrophotographer, Brendan Alexander, who is based in Killygordan and runs the Donegal Skies website yesterday advised people: "don't panic".
"The lights can happen any time throughout the year - all you need is a coronal mass injections from the sun. But it is statistically most likely around the time of the equinox in March, September. During the summer months, around June and July, it won't get dark enough in the night sky to see them.
"I would advise people to watch the forecast and look at the right websites to see if there is anything kicking off. You will then get about one to three days' warning of a possible display. Maybe then think about travelling.
"The sun's solar maximum is reached over the next two years so that means, statistically speaking, this year and next year are the two best years in the eleven year cycle to see this phenomenon. I've had so many emails from people and I'm trying to calm them down a bit," he laughed.
"Consider your options before you travel long distances because it can end in disappointment due to cloud cover and other factors. Also, remember that over the next year or two years it's likely we will get a strong display that should be visible in most parts of Ireland if not all of Ireland," added the astronomy enthusiast.
To view photos of the Northern Lights click here .
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