Aurora Australis lights: Spectacular free show for thousands of Aussies as natural lights glow red in southern skies
A dazzling display of light lit up the night sky to welcome summer. Many Aussies stayed up late to make sure they didn't miss anything.
The Aurora Australis was visible in several states late Friday night and Saturday morning.
Also called the 'Southern Lights', they are caused by a combination of natural forces that occur about 100 kilometers above the Earth's surface.
Views of the spectacular light show were particularly prominent in Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia, which were promptly shared online by stargazers.
The Aurora Australis lit up the skies in several states across the country on Friday evening
In Victoria, shades of pink were visible to the naked eye to those in rural areas far away from the light pollution of the city
Aurora Australis is caused by solar flares that emit particles towards Earth, which then collide with atoms in our atmosphere, creating a mesmerizing spectacle.
The streaks of green, purple, red and yellow are formed in the Aurora Oval, where electrons from the sun and gases from the planet collide.
These electrical discharges energize the oxygen and nitrogen atoms, releasing the multicolored light seen by thousands.
Each color is representative of a certain distance from the Earth's surface.
They can also be seen from New Zealand and Antarctica and are the equivalent of the Northern Lights in the Southern Hemisphere.
Displays can take place at any time of the year, but are most common between March and September.
Stargazers rushed out to catch a glimpse of what is also known as the 'Southern Lights', which were best seen between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.
In Tasmania, viewers got some of the best sights thanks to its proximity to Earth's south magnetic pole
All major urban light sources found near cities unfortunately obscure the Aurora Australis due to the light pollution that obscures the Milky Way and its lights.
Tasmania is often considered the best vantage point to enjoy the show due to the state's location relative to the Earth's magnetic south pole.
The natural phenomenon occurs at the north and south poles, meaning people who are at very high or very low latitudes have better chances of observing one.
Anyone who missed the first night of light can look forward to another chance to see them in the coming nights as the solar storm continues.
The Perth Observatory has documented the current storm causing a 'sudden increase in aurora activity'.
People planning to take advantage of the storm to see the lights for themselves have been advised to bring a digital camera to make the most of their trip.
“It's best to bring a digital camera and a tripod, or have a professional/night mode on your phone's camera,” the Observatory staff suggested.
'The aurora may be there, but our eye's poor color vision at night makes it difficult to distinguish it. This is where the camera will help you.”
The Bureau of Meteorology issued an aurora warning on Friday indicating a geomagnetic storm is active and warned cloud cover over Tasmania and along Queensland's east coast could affect visibility.
The brightest auroras last about one to two hours and the best time to spot them is between 10pm and 2am.
The Perth Observatory said those lights are caused by a solar storm where solar flares collide with atoms in the atmosphere, creating a vivid image.
In South Australia the lights were a mesmerizing mix of red, pink and yellow and the Milky Way was clearly visible in the background
New South Wales was treated to a deep blue color that faded into a soft velvet haze as the lights got closer to the horizon
For spectators at lower latitudes, the lights can be seen from the horizon, although less color is emitted from here, mostly shades of gray.
Dr. Jeanne Young, a space weather forecaster at the agency, said stronger colors can still be observed from these points, depending on the intensity of the solar storms.
“You have to be lucky to see an Aurora, but if you do see one, you won't be disappointed,” Dr. Young explained.
'Ideally you need a dark night with little cloud cover, you don't want a bright moon or any light pollution, so a dark location such as a beach or hill where you have an unobstructed view to the south.
“The colors shown by an aurora are generally visible to the naked eye when you are near the poles because the aurora overhead is more intense.”
Northern auroras – often known as the 'Northern Lights' – are called Aurora Borealis, which means 'dawn of the north'.
Southern lights are called Aurora Australis – from the Latin term meaning southern, which, by the way, is how Australia got its name.