Text size


High contrast

Current Weather


Northern Lights in Donegal

Explore Donegal

Experience spectacular multicoloured display of the Northern Lights dancing in the night skies above Donegal.... In real life it's much better. Is this on your bucket list? Image © Bren Whelan

As the most northerly point in Ireland, Malin Head in Inishowen is undoubtedly the best place on the island to witness the astonomical phenomenon of Aurora Borealis. Due to the low light pollution, also Dunree, Mamore Gap and Ballyliffin are prime locations in which to get the perfect photograph. However, other locations in the north of the County, with little light pollution, like Fanad Peninsula are also ideal to watch the skies.

What are Northern Lights?

The  Northern Lights are the result of electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth's atmosphere. The skies above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres are where they can be seen. In the northern hemisphere they are known as 'Aurora Borealis' and 'Aurora Australis' in the southern hemisphere.

Gaseous particles in the Earth's atmosphere collide with electrically charged particles released from the sun's atmosphere. The different colours that can be seen depend on the type of gas particles that are colliding. The most common auroral color, a pale yellowish-green, is produced by oxygen molecules located about 60 miles above the earth. Rare, all-red auroras are produced by high-altitude oxygen, at heights of up to 200 miles. Nitrogen produces blue or purplish-red aurora.

Things to look out for

There are a few things you can do to increase your chances of seeing them.  First of all look at the weather forecast for where you are planning to go to and if you have clear skies with no rain or bright moon light your chances are better.  Next thing to check is the Kp readings. The Kp number is a system of measuring Aurora strength. It goes from 0 to 9 (0 being very weak, 9 being a major geomagnetic storm with strong auroras visible), as well as real time Bz. Bz is the solar wind's magnetic orientation in the up/down direction. Although Aurora Borealis can happen with a positive Bz, a negative Bz is generally better. A negative Bz helps the solar wind grab the Earth's magnetic field which can more easily lead to an Aurora. 

Northern Lights Photography / Tours

There are a number of providers in Donegal offering Northern Lights photography tours. You can find interesting information about Northern Lights, camera equipment and the weather forecast tips on their individual websites. You can also get in touch with these providers directly if you have any specific questions.


Adam Rory Porter - The Northern Light Gallery & Studio
Buncrana, Inishowen, Co. Donegal



Linsfort Church, Co. Donegal. Image © Adam Rory Porter

Brendan Diver - Photos from Ireland

Photography Workshops and Tours - Ballyliffin, Inishowen, Co. Donegal



Ballyliffin, Co. Donegal. Image © Brendan Diver


Bren Whelan - Donegal Climbing
Inishowen, Co. Donegal 



Aurora Borealis in Donegal. Image © Bren Whelan

Noel Keating Photography
Ballintra, Co. Donegal



St. Peter's Lake, Mountcharles © Noel Keating Photography


You may also be interested in:



* indicates required

Donegal Tourism CLG will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. Please let us know if you would like to hear from us about:

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at info@govisitdonegal.com. We will treat your information with respect. To view Donegal Tourism CLG's current privacy policy, please go to: https://www.govisitdonegal.com/privacy-policy. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Key to map

Please select categories you wish to view on the map.