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Catch The Display of Ethereal Southern Lights

Home > Melbourne > Unusual Things to do | Unusual Events | Photography | Nature | Free
by Travellerstrail (subscribe)
Mum to one hyperactive toddler who insist on going out everyday. Mummy has to look for loads of activities to participate in.
Published June 2nd 2015
Aurora Australis
This natural phenomenon of lights display in the sky is caused by geomagnetic storm. When electrically charged electrons and protons accelerate down the Earth's magnetic field lines and collide with neutral atoms in the upper atmosphere, usually about 100 kilometres above the Earth, the consequence is light emissions.

This rare display is visible from high southern latitudes in Antarctica, South America, New Zealand and Australia. It is almost identical to Australis Borealis, The Northern Lights.

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Aurora Australis Captured From South Arm, Tasmania


Aurora Australis is best seen on a dark sky with a clear view across the horizon facing South. If you can find the Southern Cross constellation and face it, you can use it to find out where South is.

Although Auroras are more likely to occur close to the equinoxes, in late March and late September, incredible displays can occur at any time of year. The winter months are naturally good aurora-watching times, simply because the nights are longer. The brightest displays typically last for about 1-3 hours, and the best viewing times are generally between 10 pm and 1am. However, all viewing depends on the aurora strength (Kp) at that particular time.

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). So when you are looking at the aurora forecast, you want to see high Kp numbers. The higher the better. Anything above (and including) Kp5 is classed as a geomagnetic storm.

For those in Australia, the best place to view will be from South of Tasmania i.e. South Arm , Dru Point and Howden. When aurora is strong, the lights display can be seen from mainland Australia too. There are people who managed to capture the lights display from Victoria, Canberra, New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia. For suggestions on best aurora viewing locations, check out this map shared by Aurora Australis Tasmania.

Do note that the further distance away from South Pole would mean weaker strength lights display. Sometimes, the lights display can only be captured using a camera but when the rating is Kp 5 and above, it can be seen with naked eyes. The lights may appear more like a white flickering light instead of vibrant colours as captured by the camera.

For aurora alert, check out BOM Alert Service and Aurora-Service.net.

On my recent trip to Tasmania and Great Ocean Road, I didn't manage to see the lights display with naked eyes due to cloudy sky and low Kp. My friend and hubby only managed to capture it using the camera on long exposure.

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Southern Lights Captured From Port Campbell by ysliang


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Southern Lights Captured In South Arm, Tasmania


For more info, do check out Aurora Australis Tasmania FB Group.
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Why? Natural Phenomenon
When: Depends On Aurora Kp Rating
Where: Dark Sky With A Clear View Across The Horizon Facing South
Cost: Free
Your Comment
SUBJ: IPS AURORA WATCH
ISSUED AT 0139 UT ON 30 Jul 2015 BY IPS RADIO AND SPACE SERVICES
FROM THE AUSTRALIAN SPACE FORECAST CENTRE

A high speed solar wind stream from a coronal hole is expected to
impact the Earth from 31 July. There is some possibility of seeing
auroras on high latitudes on 31 July and 1 August during local night
time hours. Aurora alerts will follow should favourable space weather
activity eventuate.
by Travellerstrail (score: 1|69) 817 days ago
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