Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Aurora australis

One thing we were keen to see when we moved to Tasmania was aurora australis, or the 'southern lights'. I had read about Hobart locals alerting each other by SMS when one was occurring, and that sometimes vehicles could be seen snaking their way up Mount Wellington in the early hours of the morning for a better view of it. This year we got lucky, with two sightings over summer/autumn, one while my parents were visiting. David has subscribed to various alerts which show the size and location of the geomagnetic field over the south pole, a good indicator of the likelihood of seeing an aurora. Of course, the nights that had the best potential were cloudy. Southern Tasmania is generally a good spot to see them because there isn't much light pollution from urban centres, but you still need a clear, moonless dark night for a good view. Neither of our sightings so far were spectacular, but still amazing to see, with columns of green light moving in the sky. Our camera at the time was not up to taking a decent photo, so here's one that appeared in The Mercury, taken from Hobart.

Source: The Mercury, photographer Matthew Fletcher May 2011


  1. Hallo Susan,
    Vielen Dank! Hier kennen wir bekanntlich nur die in Nordeuropa sichtbare Aurora borealis. Das Bild kommt in mein Blog.
    Sonnige Frühlingsgrüße aus meine flämische Sommerfrische,

  2. Here's where you get the alerts and information:

    Aurora Alert

    This plot shows the current extent and position of the auroral oval in the southern hemisphere, extrapolated from measurements taken during the most recent polar pass of the NOAA POES satellite.

    NASA's helios product (under test) showing a similar thing: