Remembering Aurora: A Story and Photos by Stephen Squirrell

I have wanted to see the Northern Lights for many years and have been down to Felixstowe Ferry several times. I have stood in the dark by myself getting cold with not much success, although I did get a hint of pink once. Then, last Friday, Facebook was awash with reports of fantastic conditions to see the Northern Lights! It was even mentioned on the TV weather. So it was too good an opportunity to miss. 

I am never too sure what time is best to head out, so I went down to Felixstowe Ferry around 9.30pm which was much too early as there was still a golden glow on the horizon from the sunset. I chose the Ferry to avoid light pollution and you get a clear view up the Deben to the north. I also like to have something in silhouette in the foreground like some old huts or boats. I was there by myself for ages taking long exposure pics, which for the most part is the only way you know that the light is showing, then after an hour the first sign of green appeared from over Bawdsey, stretching across the Deben towards the lovely crescent moon. So, I made my way from the boat tenders back towards the jetty snapping along the way as the red appeared, (now visible to the naked eye). In fact, it was just everywhere! Just amazing.

I was surprised to find quite a crowd around the jetty with people getting some great shots, mostly on their iPhones, which I must admit are pretty amazing! I then wanted to get away from the crowds, so I walked down the seawall to take the photo of the two storey beach house just along from the sailing club. There was just enough room to set up my tripod on a couple of metres of shingle, but I had to be careful in the dark with no torch and the tide coming in. I managed to get what I think is the best photo of the night with the aurora… the most vivid red around 11.30pm.

For taking photos, I usually put my lovely Quicksilver glasses on the top of my head but sadly I tipped my head back too far and they fell off into the water! I had a quick fumble about in the dark but couldn’t find them. I got the help of a very nice young lady and with the aid of her mobile phone torch we searched for ages with no luck. I felt so sorry for the young lady as she had slipped over on the sea wall coming to help me! 

As I had been there for a couple of hours now and was getting cold (my shorts were not a great idea), I decided to head for home. Luckily I had an old pair of glasses in the van so got home safely! I was up until 1.30am sorting out the best shots to post before going to bed knackered, but still on a high as it was definitely one of the best nights in my 70 years! I was just sad that my wife, Maggie, had not shared it with me, but she did get a glimpse out of our back bedroom window!

I'm still on a high after Julie Reinger on BBC Look East  featured two of my Northern Light photos , and I'm blown away by the many hundreds of likes and comments on Facebook of those aurora photos, am chuffed beyond words! 😊


I decided to head down to the Ferry at 10.30pm in hope of seeing the Northern lights again. In fact half of Felixstowe had the same idea and it was absolutely heaving! I’ve never seen so many people there and on the cliff top car park near the golf club! Mag and I found a quiet spot in the boatyard, but sadly there was no lights in the sky that night - it was still a beautiful clear night with thousands of stars and the moon putting on a great display.

So, that’s the story of a once in a lifetime trip, just a couple of miles to see the aurora. It certainly saved us a trip to Lapland :)


Thank you Stephen Squirrell, for sending us this lovely account of your adventures last Friday. Oh, and here's a fun fact: Aurora Borealis is derived from the Greek words “Aurora” meaning “sunrise” and “Boreas” meaning “wind”. For the ancient Greeks to have seen the lights there must have been some incredibly strong solar activity because sightings so far south are almost unheard of.