Ramsgate photographer captures Northern Lights over Thanet

Capturing the Northern Lights over Broadstairs Rebecca Douglas Photography

Fabulous photos of the aurora borealis – Northern Lights – over Botany Bay at just after midnight (March 23/24) have been captured by Thanet photographer Rebecca Douglas.

The 38-year-old, who lives in Ramsgate with husband Mark and their three cats Solar, Cosmos and Magnus, says she received the alert that the skies had cleared and the aurora may be visible and  so went out to capture it.

She said: “Alerts came through about midnight and I realised that the skies had cleared after all the rain and so in a flash, I was out of the door and the aurora chase was on.

“I could actually see the green arc and the rays with my eye, I always wondered if it would be something that would be an in-camera only experience or one that you could possibly make out…..it is utterly mind-blowing to have seen them this far south. And that is the rare thing about (it).

“It was active all the way before first light of dawn cracked across the sky and ended the show!”

‘Aurora chasing’ is a specialism for Rebecca who has travelled to Iceland many times as well as capturing it in  Scotland, Sweden, The Faroe Islands, Canada and Lofoten in the Arctic Circle of Norway.

Her aurora imagery and citizen science writing has been featured in National Geographic, Ernest Journal & Iceland Monitor.

Rebecca, who studied at the University of Sheffield and worked in recruitment and then as an employability advisor  in higher education, moved into teaching photography before launching her business full-time in 2010.

She concentrates mainly on lifestyle and brand work as well as being an experienced Arctic and Sub-Arctic traveller to capture visual stories across Iceland and Norway.

Rebecca added: “If we have a window to the sky plus space weather willing, there is a strong chance of a similar night tonight!”

Rebecca Douglas Photography

For a guide on how to see and shoot the aurora head to https://rebeccadouglas.co.uk/aurora-borealis-photography/

The images can also be found on Rebecca’s print shop at https://printshop.rebeccadouglas.co.uk/art/botanybayaurora

Northern Lights

Rebecca Douglas Photography

The northern lights (also known as aurora borealis) appear as large areas of colour including pale green, pink, shades of red, yellow, blue and violet in the direction due north.

During a weak aurora, the colours are very faint and spread out whereas an intense aurora features greater numbers of and brighter colours which can be seen higher in the sky with a distinct arc. The northern lights are best seen in darkness, away from any light pollution. The lights generally extend from 50 miles to as high as 400 miles above the Earth’s surface.

The northern lights occur as a consequence of solar activity and result from collisions of charged particles in the solar wind colliding with molecules in the Earth’s upper atmosphere.

Source Met Office


    • I assume the bright white lights are from anchored shipping.

      It is therefore likely that such light will have refracted through the individual lenses within the camera lens itself, thereby giving a prismatic effect – hence the reason it is ”seen” by the camera but not by the human eye.

      • Yeah the two brightest lights on the horizons were anchored ships…..plus the wind farm and coastal Essex give a glow! I saw them, the green glow and the red rays, they were white/soft glow to my eye but I could see them. Obviously the camera picks up much more here and the colours too, my eye couldn’t detect it in colour….I’ve seen it full colour in Scotland and the Arctic. Folk in Norfolk I know were seeing colour at the same time I was shooting these.

  1. Excellent photography I don’t wish to burst your bubble but talking to my taxi driver neighbour he told me this morning ( he works nights ) he had seen the lights and could not make out what they were he said “ I think it was Thanet earth”

    • Hey Bill,

      Thanks! There is no bubble to burst as this is 100% aurora….I was shooting north out to sea, you can see a sky full of stars shining through the aurora.

      Thanet Earth wasn’t visible where I was shooting, it is 5 miles west and it only glows pink when there is cloud for it to reflect on. It is so outrageous the amount of light pollution that creates when there is cloud above it.

      The aurora that is glowing pinky red here is high altitude oxygen in our atmosphere and the sky is totally cloud free with stars dazzling.

      I share a lot more about how to see and shoot aurora here: https://rebeccadouglas.co.uk/aurora-borealis-photography/

      • Wow, thank you for catching it for us, I never thought it could be seen so far South. Thanet is a great area for painting and photography.

  2. Ignore the miserable cynics Rebecca , I think your photos look cool and I also know your camera lense was pointing in a different direction to Thanet Earth

  3. Hi Rebecca, I’ve no doubt what you saw was 100% what you say the fact my neighbour mentioned it shows how unusual it was. Well done excellent photography and dedication to spend the night looking at it.

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