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LATEST SKY EVENTS

Updated July 5th 2018

Dramatic Golden Hour Peat Wild Fire Near Rasharkin - REPORT

Golden Hour Gorse Fire

July 4th 2018, N. Ireland still in the middle of a heat wave and drought conditions. My mate Conor McDonald called around for a chat during the evening, we casually looked to the east and were shocked to see a massive gorse fire in the distance. We gave chase from Maghera, got a sudden tire blow out on the back roads, raced to get it replaced, then made our way through Kilrea when we spotted the fire up close outside Rasharkin originating from peat land. We found a field, launched the drone and flew out to get an aerial perspective on what was going on. The drone view was absolutely incredible with the lowering sun shining through a quivering wall of ascending smoke, the filtered sunshine through the smoke and golden hour light generated a dramatic yellow and orange fiery vista which left us awestruck. This was a short and entirely unexpected last minute shoot, one page report with 4 images and 1 video clip. - REPORT.

Historic Glenshane Pass Three Day Gorse Fire - REPORT

Historic Glenshane Gorse Fire Report

N. Ireland is in the midst of a long heat wave with hot sunny days and a new June record max temp of 30.8C on June 27th. This same morning I got a phone call from a mate tipping me off to a gorse fire on Glenshane Pass, I drove up for a look, the fire soon turned into an historic event for this area and raged for two nights and three days. I spent all three days documenting the event on camera and by drone. Due to multiple fires on the mountain fire crews had to be dropped off by helicopter to battle the flames, the chopper against the late evening smoke plumes looked like a scene from a war movie. This report documents all three days, a fire sunset, the forest itself on fire on day 2 and an aftermath trip on day 3 to document the widespread damage. Two page report with 41 images and 4 video clips. - PAGE 1 & PAGE 2

Noctilucent Tornado - June 24th

We have been observing NLCs every night here in N. Ireland, it seems their complexity has been getting more advanced after the Solstice. Last night's display from Maghera (June 24th/25th) was very interesting to watch, it wasn't intensely bright or very high (25 degrees) however it made up for it with stunning structure. The display was made up of clusters of medium and large scale whirls and knots which glowed electric blue above a yellow midnight sunset horizon. The NLCs looked like spiders legs creeping across the sky, however the structure to the NW was a jaw dropper, this region suddenly lit up from type 2 brightness to type 4 brightness in approx 2 seconds!!!, I mean it literally lit up brightly in real time as I watched just like a light bulb being switched on. This area then evolved into a show of long lived evolving structure. It looked like a wedge, a funnel, angel wings, an electrified smoke ring then a long rope tornado which reached towards the horizon, these were amazing to watch. Above is the NW formation, long lived sustained evolving structure, this is the rope tornado, I was shooting with the 24-70mm and actually got a time lapse segment of this portion.

The electric blue smoke rings to the NE, later they looked like spooky spider's legs creeping across the twilight stars of Perseus and Andromeda, moving L to R in real time. You would think by the sky it was after sunset, however this was actually 02.00 BST.

Just before dawn a great display of whirls manifested upward, very alien looking, this is a combination of whirls, herringbone, and knots, my favourite type of NLC structures.

03.00, such a stunning sky, the night was silent, I was in a field yet it felt like another world, dew misted over my camera lens then I called it a night. For me this has been the best NLC structure of the season so far, however there will be plenty more displays to come yet so I'm hoping for an epic show any night now.

Lough fea NLCs - June 22nd

We conducted an NLC watch on June 22nd/23rd on the shore of Lough Fea in Co. Tyrone, I was in the company of Conor McDonald, Paul Martin and John Fagan, the night was dead calm and the lake fell still. We ended up having a BBQ and a great time while scanning the skies, after midnight NLCs were spotted in the NE and began to increase in brightness and height extending into the N. Type 3 brightness however by 01.00 they increased to type 4.5 and began sporting band structure with veil.

After 02.00 they peaked at type 5, illuminating objects, making our faces glow, and lighting up the lough, the lake was like a mirror which did a great job of reflecting the NLCs. The highlight was this long curving band casting vivid shadows, this was very intense with golden colours surrounded by silver-blue from the surrounding sheet. I shot a lot of time lapse, however this section with the 24mm was certainly the catch of the night. I'm currently watching every clear night hoping for an exceptional display of outstanding structure.

High Pressure Thunderstorm Outbreak - REPORT

New Report

New report documenting a remarkable period of high pressure hot weather which lasted for four weeks and ended up in a thunderstorm outbreak over a week long in the W of N. Ireland. I chased on June 7th, 8th and 9th and succeeded in intercepting storms on all three days. Highlights include a funnel cloud over Omagh, standing on the Sperrins between two close range thunderstorms and bagging another funnel from Glenshane. All days were hot and humid, I chased many miles and ended up on roads I have never been on before in my life surrounded by beautiful countryside. This report showcases images from these chases and my efforts to capture time lapse of storms. One page report with 19 images, 1 Vlog & 1 time lapse video. - REPORT.

Benbradagh Thunderstorm Beast - REPORT

Benbradagh Beast - New Report

June 1st 2018, 1000 CAPE, LIs -4, high humidity and heat in the midst of a wonderful four week HP heat wave. I began my chase at Benbradagh outside Dungiven as a base of operations and ended up getting two thunderstorms. The main storm turned out to be the most prolific daylight thunder/lightning producer I have ever experienced. Due to the slack flow storm motion was the slowest I have encountered and from a sunny vantage point on the mountain we watched the entire life cycle of this intense thunderstorm which had solid updraughts and mean structure. The storm produced constant thunder for over 1 hour in close proximity while we watched in awe under sunshine which made for a memorable storm experience. Also a storm at Desertmartin and big convection spotting on the Sperrins on June 2nd. One page report with 15 images, 1 Vlog & 2 time lapse videos. - REPORT.

Drone View Of Hot Air Balloons Over Maghera - REPORT

New Report

Two days of chasing hot air balloons around the countryside outside Maghera on May 28th and 29th 2018 as part of the 20th anniversary of the Sperrins Balloon Festival. Warm humid high pressure days complimented by formations of majestic hot air balloons, this report documents two days of chasing along back roads with other photographers to document the event and capture drone footage in the process. On page report with 4 images & 2 aerial video clips. - REPORT.

The 2018 Noctilucent Cloud Season - ARTICLE

The 2018 Noctilucent Cloud (NLC) season will soon be underway with the first early season sightings possible any night. NLCs form within the Earth's atmosphere some 82km high in the frigid mesosphere and appear to suddenly 'switch on' during northern hemisphere Summer. The season runs from late May to early August. NLCs can range from faint glows to magnificent highly structured luminous cloud formations, prolific apparitions tend to occur around solar minimum so this season does have high expectations. Check out the following article I wrote for my site several years ago. Learn how to identify and observe these mysterious night shining clouds, can you tell the difference between a veil?, or a wave?, or perhaps a lacunosus hole?, I have used a selection of my own imagery captured over the years with annotations to help understand NLC structure and brightness, I hope you find it of use, I wish you clear skies and a spectacular season - ARTICLE

Surprise Thunderstorm At Swatragh Wind Turbines & Cap Bust - REPORT

Surprise Evening Thunderstorm Report

On May 11th 2018 a strong cold front crossed the country bringing heavy rainfall associated with a broken squall line which produced rotation over Co. Tyrone. That evening the front cleared leaving low end instability in it's wake. Unknown to me at the time a cell had evolved and crossed the Sperrins, aided by convergence, wind shear and orographic lift a thunderstorm erupted to life to the W of Dungiven, I got tipped off within min's by my mates, checked radar, then raced out the road. I intercepted the storm on the hills above Swatragh in the form of a large and impressive shelf cloud which crept over the local wind turbines in the late evening light, this surprise storm presented me with the first structure event of 2018, one page report with 8 images. - REPORT.

New Nightskyhunter facebook Page - NEWS

I have created a new facebook page dedicated entirely to this website, I'm currently transitioning from my private page to a new public page which will feature links to all my site updates, reports, forecasts and also showcase my night sky and storm photography, drone videos and time lapse cinematography. If you already follow me then please like and follow my new page and spread the word, thanks very much for - Nightskyhunter Facebook Page

N. Ireland Storm Chasing Image Reports

N. Ireland Storm Chasing Reports

Astronomy is not the only subject I'm 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.

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Martin McKenna

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