Tourists are flocking to North Donegal as one of the great wonders of the world lights up the skyline every night with the fantastic light show that is the Aurora Borealis.

Better known as the Northern Lights, astronomers and photographers have been marvelling at the burst of colors as interest in the phenomena grips the country.

Experts believe Irish worshippers may get another chance to witness the Northern Lights show later this week as conditions in the area are currently favourable.

The Irish Times reports that the stunning display attracted thousands of people to the north Donegal shoreline late on Sunday night and early on Monday morning.


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Local amateur astronomer Brendan Alexander captured a stunning photograph of the Aurora Borealis which has been printed in the Irish Times.

Alexander told the paper how the rain stayed away just long enough to capture the images from Fanad Head in the north of the county.

Using a Canon camera with a 30 second exposure, Alexander had been tracking a solar flare since Nasa reported that it has erupted from the Sun’s surface last Thursday.

The report explained how auroras occur when ionised particles from the sun hit the earth’s atmosphere and react with the gases, in this case, oxygen, which gives off the red and green colours.

“They occur at extreme latitudes because the ions are attracted towards the magnetic poles,” said the Irish Times.

“They are not usually seen as far south as Ireland, but this one has. It was due to hit earth’s atmosphere at 10.30pm on Saturday, but it did not come until Sunday morning and the activity levels kept building during the day.

“The Kp, or radiation level, which is a measure of how strong the display will be, was between 4.5 and 5, enough for the lights to be seen from Donegal, but it needs a 6 for the view to be seen across Ireland.”

The sun is going through an active phase at the moment and threw off its biggest solar flare for six years on Monday morning. Astonomers say that the flare is travelling at an estimated 6.7 million km/h towards earth.

Such was the interest in Sunday night’s light show that people had to turn back from approaches to Malin Head on the Inishowen peninsula because traffic was so heavy.

Buncrana Camera Club chairman Adam Porter also captured the dramatic scenes on film.

He told the Irish Independent: “It was just incredible. We were planning to go to Malin Head, but there were so many people there we drove to Urris instead. It was incredible to see.”

Local tourism boss Kathleen Gill told the paper that visitors have already arrived from as far away as Cork with the Northern Lights expected to be visible until March.

“We have had a lot of calls from as far away as Cork about the lights and what accommodation is available in the region,” she said.

Here's a time lapse video of the Northern Lights, taken in Canada:

Here's Davi Moore talking about the Northern Lights on RTE's News2Day: