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The Southern Lights, Tasmania

The Southern Lights, Tasmania

Sunday November 3, 2013

Despite something of a lull since July, the Southern Lights have been quite active in Tasmania over the past 18 months. Predicting the southern lights, or Aurora Australis, is very difficult at the best of times but an actively flaring sun is the key.

Resurgence in solar activity

In the past few weeks the sun seems to have woken from it’s recent slumber somewhat, with numerous C- and M-class flares, and even a few X-class flares. Unfortunately, very few of these flares resulted in aurora sightings here in Tasmania and even the one or two that did coincided with some very poor weather and therefore poor viewing conditions.

The reason for the lack of aurora despite the frequent flaring on the sun is simple – virtually all the flares have originated from non-earthward pointing locations on the sun. My Solaris Alpha smartphone app has been constantly alerting me to flare activity but most of the big CME producing flares have happened at almost 90 degree angles to the earth. Then yesterday, finally, a fairly big M6 flare occurred right in the middle of the side of the sun directly facing earth…but… it doesn’t look like a CME was produced, so the waiting game continues…

When I am not shooting new auroras, I am delving into the many previous shoots I have done over the past 18 months. Here are a few shots from Seven Mile Beach on May 20, 2012.

Southern Lights, Seven Mile Beach May 20 2013

Southern Lights Tasmania May 20 2013

Southern Lights Tasmania May 20 2013

Southern Lights Tasmania May 20 2013

Southern Lights Tasmania May 20 2013

Southern Lights Tasmania May 20 2013

Southern Lights Tasmania May 20 2013

Southern Lights Tasmania May 20 2013

Southern Lights Tasmania May 20 2013

Night sky photography – not just aurorae!

The southern lights have been an absolute joy to photograph and obsess over and I am crossing my fingers that there is still some action in the coming months as Solar Maximum 24 winds up. In the next few weeks, I will be searching out Comet ISON which is not going to be high in the Tasmanian sky but it will be a fun challenge.

For an index to all my aurora photos check this page.

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