Aurora detector installed

The detector is located near to the Sumburgh Head lighthouse. Photo: Nathan Case/Aurora Watch UK

A NEW detector has been installed at Sumburgh Head which will allow a team of scientists to closely monitor aurora activity in and around Shetland.

AuroraWatch UK, which is run through Lancaster University, has collaborated with Shetland Amenity Trust to install the magnetometer at the grounds of the lighthouse.

The group measures interactions between solar wind and the Earth’s magnetosphere and issues alerts to subscribers when the Northern Lights may be visible.


Writing on the AuroraWatch blog, Dr Nathan Case said the organisation has launched its own Twitter account for Shetland-specific alerts.

“Being much closer to the auroral oval than the rest of the UK, the aurora has often been visible from Shetland when our Aberdeen magnetometer barely registered any magnetic disturbance,” he said.

“Adding this Shetland magnetometer will help us provide more accurate and timely alerts for those in Shetland, Orkney, and the rest of far-north Scotland.”

The Shetland magnetometer received funding from Gradconsult, which works in partnership with employers, universities and professional bodies in the graduate market.

Shetland is known as something of a hotspot for sightings of the aurora borealis, which is also known as the mirrie dancers locally.