A non-commercial site to collect and disseminate information on the natural history of Shetland.

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Nature in Shetland

Recording nature in Shetland since 1996

Winner of a Shetland Environment Award 2004




Occasional reports on astronomical events

Send  in your photos  - if you have photos to share, send them in


From now on we will post astronomy photos on our Facebook page (which is open to anyone, whether you are a Facebook member or not)

You can see Aurora photos for 2012 by following the link for in this album.

Saturday 10th December 2011

Partial lunar eclipse at Gutcher - Andy Gear (one photo), at Lerwick - Austin Taylor (4 photos), and at Nesting - Ivan Hawick (one photo)

Tuesday 27th September 2011

Aurora over Shetland - Ivan Hawick

Monday 26th September 2011

Aurora over Shetland - Mike Pennington (3 photos); Austin Taylor (3 photos); Chris Brown (3 photos); Ivan Hawick (2 photos)

Saturday 6th August 2011

Aurora at Nesting - Ivan Hawick

Tuesday 28th June 2011

Noctilucent clouds - Chris Brown

Saturday 2nd April 2011

Aurora at Kergord - Ivan Hawick

Saturday 12th March 2011

Sun halo at Quarff - Gordon Waddell

Friday 11th March 2011

Aurora in central Mainland - Austin Taylor (3 photos); at Dunrossness - Ivan Hawick (one photo)

Thursday 6th January 2011

Aurora at Nesting - Ivan Hawick

Tuesday 21st December 2010

Lunar eclipse and Venus at Baltasound - Mike Pennington; Lunar eclipse - Ivan Hawick (one photo)

Wednesday 24th November 2010

Aurora at Nesting - Ivan Hawick

Tuesday 14th September 2010

Aurora at Nesting - Ivan Hawick

Friday 16th April 2010

Sun halo at Nesting, probably caused by Icelandic volcanic ash in the upper atmosphere - Ivan Hawick

Thursday 15th April 2010

Mercury and Moon at Hamnavoe - Austin Taylor

Monday 12th April 2010

Aurora: over Whalsay (Ivan Hawick - 1 photo); Wadbister (Austin Taylor - 1 photo); Lerwick (Austin Taylor - 3 photos); Eswick (Ivan Hawick - 1 photo)

Sunday 11th April 2010

Aurora: left, Burravoe, Yell (Dougie Preston); middle, Wadbister and right, Railsbrough (both Ivan Hawick)

Sunday 4th April 2010

Aurora at Dunrossness (left) and Scousburgh (right) - Ivan Hawick

Thursday 4th March 2010

Aurora at Nesting - Ivan Hawick

Wednesday 24th February 2010

Moon halo at Nesting - Ivan Hawick

Friday 29th January 2010

Orion - Ian Towriess

Wednesday 20th January 2010

Aurora - Ivan Hawick

Friday 21st August 2009

Aurora - Alastair Wilson

Friday 13th February 2009

Aurora - Ivan Hawick

Friday 18th July 2008

Noctilucent clouds - Austin Taylor

Sightings of these clouds are confined to the summer months and may be anticipated perhaps 3 or 4 times in an average year, though sightings are becoming more common - I have seen them 4 times this year already.  They are also normally a northern phenomenon, generally being confined to latitudes north of about 50 degrees - though they are increasingly being seen further south.  Sightings as brilliant as were visible on the 18th are rare and these were a truly beautiful sight for anyone fortunate to see them.  "Noctilucent" means "luminous at night" and they are only visible when lit from below after sunset, with the ground and lower atmosphere in darkness.

According to the British Astronomical Association, noctilucent clouds are located in the mesosphere, about 80-85km (50 miles) above the polar regions of the Earth's surface and are the highest clouds ever seen, some ten times higher than cirrus, the highest tropospheric cloud. They are still in sunlight long after sunset and they shine in the sky whereas the lower tropospheric clouds show up dark against them.

Other internet sources say that these clouds are extremely thin and tenuous, made of tiny ice crystals that brilliantly reflect sunlight.  Not a great deal is known about them and there seems to be some disagreement on how they have formed.  It seems that they were only first observed in the late 19th Century though there are suggestions that their development may be relevant to climate change and that sightings are becoming more frequent. Scientific research seems to be difficult, being too low for satellites to observe and too high for balloons to gather data.

Monday 10th December 2007

Aurora borealis over Lerwick and Wadbister - Austin Taylor

Thursday 18th October 2007

Aurora borealis from Wadbister - Austin Taylor

Thursday 26th July 2007

Noctilucent clouds - Austin Taylor

Wednesday 10th January 2007

Comet McNaught - Steve Minton

Sunday 7th May 2006

Red sunset at Baltasound - Mike Pennington

Monday 30th January 2006 Saturn - Steve Minton

'One of the coolest things in the sky', even with the tantalising glimpses an ornithological scope can manage.

Monday 3rd October 2005

Partial eclipse of the sun over Foula - Tony Mainwood

Tuesday 9th November 2004

A spectacular aurora almost filled the sky from just after sunset to just before dawn. Colours mainly varied from green to white, but there were some spectacular shapes.


Aurora over Haroldswick and Clibberswick - the constellations visible are the Plough in the first two, Gemini on the right of the third, Gemini and Auriga in the next two and the star Vega in Lyra is the most obvious star in the final photo - Mike Pennington

Aurora over Nesting - Bryan Gray

Tuesday 31st August 2004

A brief but spectacular aurora was reported over Lerwick at 01:30 this morning.

It was predicted by Aurora Watch - click here for a link.

Tuesday 8th June 2004

With sunny spells through the day there were good conditions for viewing the transit of Venus across the face of the Sun - an event not seen anywhere on Earth of 126  years.

The transit of Venus, the second showing the so-called 'third contact' when the disc of Venus comes into contact with the edge of the Sun's disc before leaving the face of the Sun - Austin Taylor (click on images for larger versions).

Monday 3rd May 2004

It was too cloudy to see the eclipse of the moon on the night of 4th/5th, although there was a fine night sky the night before.

Saturday 20th March 2004

A rather unusual set of circumstances over the next week or so allows an observer to see all five naked eye planets at dusk - Mercury is very low in the west and only visible for half an hour or so after it gets (fairly) dark, Venus is about as bright as it ever gets, Mars is fading fast but is easy to find just beneath the Pleiades (Seven Sisters), Saturn is high in the sky and Jupiter is in the east and almost as bright as Venus.

Thursday 20th November 2003

The best display of the Aurora Borealis ('Northern Lights' or, in Shetland, 'Merry Dancers') was witnessed throughout the islands. These photos were taken by Mike Pennington at Uyeasound.

Saturday 31st May 2003

The annular eclipse of the sun was affected by the cloud cover. A few lucky observers saw the 'golden ring' effect through the clouds. On Unst, this was the best view before the sun disappeared behind thick cloud.


This site is not directly connected to any of the organisations mentioned, so comments  may not necessarily reflect the views of the organisations, clubs or societies  involved. The pages on this website remain the intellectual property of the authors. They may be freely downloaded, quoted or used for any purpose, providing acknowledgement is given to the website and/or the author/s. No liability is accepted for the accuracy of this information. Copyright of all photographs remains with the photographer.