I enjoy taking photographs of the night sky. I have to apologise that these photographs have been changed from my 35mmdigital RAW format to JPEG and have lost some of the definition in the process. I am very fortunate to live in the far south of Tasmania and when the Aurora Australis or Southern Lights as they are also known. The Aurora has been very quiet for quite some time. So I thought I would share with you some photographs I have taken back on the 1st of May 2019 , 01/05/2019. This was a wonderful night and the Lady Aurora was resplendent in her colours.
What causes an Aurora, be it the Aurora Australis/Southern Lights or the Aurora Borealis/Northern Lights?
Charged particles are the “ammunition” of an aurora. The short answer to how the aurora happens is that energetic electrically charged particles (mostly electrons) accelerate along the magnetic field lines into the upper atmosphere, where they collide with gas atoms, causing the atoms to give off light.Jun 19, 2001www.exploratorium.edu › learning_studio › auroras › happen
My understanding is the different gases that are in the atmosphere give off different colors when gas atoms collide with these electrically charged particles.
The lights are seen around the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. Auroras that occur in the northern hemisphere are called ‘Aurora Borealis‘ or ‘northern lights’ and auroras that occur in the southern hempishere are called ‘Aurora Australis‘ or ‘southern lights’.
The above photograph is interesting as it shows a formation in the Aurora known as a picket fence. The orange light to the right of the screen is a column.
Here You can see the beams and when I am taking these shots and review them you can see the beams swirling as the move across the sky.
More beams and the beautiful colour, with swirling beams and bright colours.
Many people get quite confused as here in Tasmania due to not being as far south it is very unusual to actually be able to see the Aurora Australis with only your eyes. When you are fortunate to see it with only your eyes it is usually more like grey to greenish movements or columns in the sky. If you are looking south and you see a glow like there is town and you know there is no town it could very well be an Aurora.
There are many aurora forecasting apps out there.
The photographs you see are taken on long exposures usually with Digital 35mm cameras. Though some mobile phones can take photographs of the Aurora.
You also really need to have a tripod or some sort of support, to keep the camera from moving, no matter how you believe you can hold your camera steady for 30+ seconds you can’t.
Here in Tasmania is not the only location in Australia you may be fortunate to see an Aurora Australis. Last Year there was an Aurora and we were clouded in almost all over Tasmania. Yet people in Western Australia, South Australia, and Victoria were getting a wonderful display.
People often ask me if they can come with me. I have to explain that sometimes when an aurora is forecast, it might be hours that I am out there and it might not be quite as good as predicted. Or I might just get out there because I woke at 2am to go to the toilet and noticed a brighter look in the sky to my south. I got in my car and just went to a friends paddock and set up. Sure enough the lady was visiting. She only stayed for a brief time. I was home in bed again by 3:30am
I may just go and it might only last for half an hour. Or as the last time I was out I was out from 10pm until sunrise. Sometimes I have driven to one of my spots only to find I have missed the show. I have sat hoping that she may start up again, but no.
It is why we call it Aurora hunting. We are fortunate that we have good night skies. I have seen wonderful photographs taken from the north of the state the midlands, cradle mountain, Bicheno, Swansea,Frecyinate , Port Arthur area. Of course New Zealand also has great views for Aurora Australis as to the Antartic.
Here in Tasmania in summertime when we do have Aurora because of daylight saving time it is very late when it gets dark. After 8;30pm at present, but in December it is almost 10pm before it is dark.
In winter the cold is a problem and fog, sea mist, and again clouds. But it is all what makes the hunt so fantastic when You do get great shots.
Again I am so fortunate, to have this natural wonder occurring in my backyard.
I am so thankful to have experienced this wonderful display numerous times, and hope that some time in the near future the sun will again be having flares that will instigate the possibility of more opportunities for me and others to photograph the Lady Aurora.
blessing to you all Tazzie