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Ireland's latitude is roughly between the 52nd and 55th parallels, which is beyond the so-called Aurora zone around the magnetic poles. However, when the Kp index that measures the strength of geomagnetic activity is high enough, the whole country becomes a good place to see Northern Lights. However, there could be clouded skies, and big cities experience light pollution, so you'll need all the luck you can get to witness the beautiful phenomenon. To increase your chances, you'd want to go as far out of the city as possible and, of course, head in the northern direction.
When is the best time to see northern lights
Northern lights in Ireland are usually visible from 9 pm to 1 am during the period from September through March. The time of fall, winter, and spring equinoxes usually feature more frequent auroras due to increased geomagnetic activity. So check the websites for Kp index (you are looking for numbers over 5 to be able to see the aurora in Ireland) and wait for the sky to be clear of clouds.
Donegal County in northwestern Ireland bordering the Atlantic Ocean has beautiful historical castles, rugged coastline, lakes and mountains that suit perfectly for an aurora hunt. Tra na Rossan Beach on the Rosguill Peninsula has a good location and little light pollution along the northern headlands. Inishowen Peninsula offers a few excellent spots for viewing northern lights. One of them is Malin Head, a great place to see aurora borealis thanks to its northernmost location in the country. Another one is Dunree Head that also offers the Dunree Fort as a shelter and a museum alongside several nature walks and a picturesque bay to be explored during the day. The Glencolumbkille on the Slieve League Peninsula is another location to experience the phenomenon.
Mullaghmore peninsula with its scenic views dominated by Ben Bulben mountain is a good spot to see northern lights, even though visibility here is not as good as in Donegal. The north-facing peninsula is located south of Donegal and is a popular vacation spot in the summer.
The Mullet Peninsula, also called the Erris Peninsula after its northernmost point Erris Head, is a popular destination for aurora chasers. The town of Belmullet with its two bays, Blacksod Bay and Broadhaven Bay, is a well-known local Northern Lights gazing spot. Downpatrick Head is another good location facing north. This small peninsula with a rugged coast and an isolated location is actually the northernmost point of the Mayo county,
What is the best time to see aurora in Ireland?
Aurora in Ireland is visible from September to March. The fall, winter and spring equinoxes see increased geomagnetic activity, making them more likely to appear. Visitors should check the Kp index to ensure maximum visibility. A number over 5 indicates the best chance to view the Northern Lights. Show more
What are some of the popular places to see aurora in Ireland?
Donegal County is located in northwestern Ireland and offers rugged coastlines, castles, and mountains that are perfect for witnessing the Northern Lights. The Inishowen Peninsula’s Malin Head and Dunree Head offer unobstructed views of aurora due to the location’s northernmost position in the country. Glencolumbkille, Mullaghmore Peninsula, Mullet Peninsula, and Downpatrick Head are other popular spots for aurora sightings in Ireland. Show more
How does the Kp index affect the visibility of the Northern Lights in Ireland?
When the Kp index exceeds 5, the probability of viewing aurora in Ireland is significantly increased. Northern Lights are caused by geomagnetic activity, and the Kp index measures that activity. This is most active during fall, winter, and spring equinoxes. Visitors seeking the best time for aurora sightings should use websites that provide live coverage of the Kp index for accurate updates. Show more
Is it possible to see aurora in cities in Ireland?
Aurora can be seen from anywhere with clear, unpolluted skies that allow visibility of the night sky. In urban areas, the abundance of city lights can wash out the aurora, so rural areas are usually better. Convenient aurora sighting spots are northern-facing headlands in Donegal County, Inishowen Peninsula, and Mullet Peninsula, although sightings can normally occur anytime from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Show more
What can visitors do in Ireland while waiting for aurora sightings?
Visitors waiting for aurora sightings in Ireland can take up nature walks, explore picturesque bays, visit museums such as Dunree Fort, and take scenic drives. Tra na Rossan Beach in the Rosguill Peninsula offers stunning nature walks, while Belmullet and Downpatrick Head present rugged coastlines and isolated locations to explore. Show more