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  • Writer's picture@ Cynthia Adina Kirkwood

Rare Aurora Borealis in Portugal

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

The northern lights at the seaside city of Figueira da Foz (Photo by Miguel Marques)


To capture the northern lights at a seaside city on Portugal’s west coast, two astrophotographers overcame the challenges of the cold, wind and clouds as well as the light pollution of a lighthouse.

Maria and Miguel Marques climbed to a high point on the mountain range, Serra da Boa Viagem, three kilometers north of the city of Figueira da Foz and above the site of the Cabo Mondego Lighthouse, to photograph the spectacle, reported Expresso (November 8).

“After seeing some photographs on social media with aurora borealis in places with latitudes similar to our country, such as Greece and Italy, we wanted to believe that it also would be possible to see it in Portugal,” astrophotographer Miguel Marques told Expresso.

The aurora borealis, normally seen in the Arctic Circle, also showed itself in southern Europe and North America on November 5, reported Público (November 6). The sky lit up in Italy, Greece, Switzerland, Ukraine, Texas and North Carolina. In Portugal, the spectacle also appeared, but it was fainter and difficult, if not impossible, to see with the naked eye.

Ricardo Gafeira, a researcher at the Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço (Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences) called the sighting a “rare, but possible” phenomenon, reported Público.

Experts corroborated the authenticity of Miguel Marques’ photograph due to the occurrence of “a strong geomagnetic storm” the night before, according to Público. They emphasized that the lack of more sightings is normal because the photograph was taken under very particular conditions, related to camera settings, direction and exposure time.

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