Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Scotland Is Out of This World

This past week, Scotland experienced both the Aurora Borealis and a solar eclipse. I was fortunate enough to be able to witness both. Or at least attempt to witness both. On Tuesday, I was informed that the Aurora Borealis would be active over the U.K., so that evening I trekked up Calton Hill to attempt to spot it. I spent about two hours trying to see some sign that the Northern Lights were active, but unfortunately Edinburgh was too cloudy and foggy. Other areas, both within the U.K. and outside it were a bit more fortunate, so I was able to browse through pictures online afterwards to see what I had missed. Even though I was unsuccessful, it was a really cool way to spend an evening. It’s not every day you even get the chance to try to spot such an incredible natural phenomenon. Someday I’ll go about trying to see the Northern Lights more officially, but it was one of those times where I was able to be spontaneous and do something out of the ordinary.

View from Calton Hill at night

View from Calton Hill at night


Then on Friday morning, we experienced a solar eclipse. Though I was in seminar at the time, our tutor allowed us to have a conveniently timed tea break and go watch it through the window. If you look directly at the solar eclipse, you will severely damage your eyes, but we were able to see it by looking at its reflection in a puddle. It was my first time seeing an eclipse of any kind, and it was awesome and just another kind of unexpected addition to my time abroad. Even the New York Times published articles and videos covering the event. According to an article by Dan Bilefsky and Melissa Eddy entitled ‘Europeans (Carefully) Gaze Upward for Glimpse of the Solar Eclipse,’ “solar eclipses are unusual marvels, occurring intermittently and visible only in certain parts of the planet” and in Europe, “the next total solar eclipse will not occur until 2026.” So while not a once-in-a-lifetime event, it was definitely something pretty rare. The article also noted that a lot of people were disappointed with the eclipse, or thought that it didn’t live up to the hype that was generated about it. Maybe it’s because it was my first time witnessing this event, but I found this surprising. It definitely wasn’t as dramatic as some may have claimed it would, but it was still pretty amazing. You can see and decide for yourself by watching this video on the NY Times site, which shows the eclipse as it occurred over Norway:


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