The aurora and STEVE
Watching an aurora is always a fantastic experience but this particular evening had some extra goodness to it.
Whilst each display of the aurora is quite different, typically there is a greenish glow along the horizon with a varied range of red-pink-purple colours above it. There is also a subset of “sub-auroral forms”, a couple of which were on display on the evening of Feb 21, 2023.
The image above shows the typical green/yellow glow on the southern horizon, but further to the east there was a very faint, but tall, beam of light along with a diffuse band of red light (invisible to the eye) stretching across the southern sky well above the aurora.
Sensing something a little different was going on I kept the camera turned toward the east, and watched to see what would happen. The big red beam was visible to the eye (although not the red colour) and I have since learned it was in fact a STEVE (which stands for Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement) and is a relatively recently defined sub-auroral light show. The white light in between the red beam and the Milky Way is also part of the STEVE.
The next thing to occur was the formation of a picket fence – another structure I had not photographed before. It formed right below the red beam, and made its way across the southern sky.
Oh yeah, there was even a nice little bit of bioluminescence in the sea too, just for good measure! All in all a really fascinating evening shooting the southern lights.