Incredible photos capture rare display of Southern Lights as reason Aurora Australis was seen so far north
- The Aurora Australis was seen in NSW
- It was spotted in Dubbo, the central west
On a rare occasion, the Aurora Australis – also known as the Southern Lights – was visible as far north as central western New South Wales.
Residents of parts of NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia were able to see a pink glow in the sky on Monday night thanks to particularly strong geomagnetic activity.
While ‘severe’ geomagnetic storms can occasionally make the aurora visible in southern NSW, the colorful sky is a very rare sight in the center of the state.
Spectacular photos shared online show a dark pink light was visible as far north as Dubbo, 400 km northwest of Sydney.
While Sydney’s bright lights would have made the aurora difficult to see, residents a little further south on the coast were treated to visions of bright purple and pink.
The Aurora Australis was visible in parts of central NSW on Monday night (pictured, the aurora in Dubbo)
A dark purple hue was visible from Canberra’s suburbs (above) and residents called the sight “stunning”
WHAT IS THE AURORA AUSTRALIS?
The Aurora Australis, or Southern Lights, is the Southern Hemisphere’s version of the Northern Lights.
It is a natural phenomenon associated with “powerful emissions from the sun and geomagnetic disturbances.”
The lights can usually only be seen at very high or very low latitudes, but large solar events can make the lights visible from further away.
For example, a massive solar event in March 1989 allowed the Aurora to be visible as far north as Exmouth, central WA, and the Southern Lights as far south as Texas.
Forecasts for the Aurora Australis are available at the The Bureau of Meteorology website.
Source: Bureau of Meteorology
A time-lapse of the night sky in Gerroa, 135 km south of Sydney, captured by local Daniel Munro shows a bright light accompanied by the colors in the sky.
A ‘stunning’ dark purple hue was visible on the outskirts of Canberra.
On the west coast, the aurora was seen as high as Lancelin – 125 km north of Perth.
Sightings were also reported in the towns of Orange and Forbes in NSW mid-west, Clayton Bay in southern SA and Dunsborough on WA’s southwest coast.
The aurora remained active throughout Monday night, peaking shortly after midnight.
The power of the Aurora was probably affected by a solar flare on February 24.
The Perth Observatory explained: ‘A magnetic filament connected to sunspot AR3229 erupted on February 24, triggering a chain reaction of events.
“The eruption produced a long-lasting, moderate-intensity solar flare that passed us in 10 minutes. But it’s what came next that caused the aurora. A partial Earth-directed coronal mass ejection.
‘CMEs are explosions of charged plasma from the outer layers of the sun. They travel much slower than flares, take a few days to reach us, and can create beautiful auroras.
“It produced auroras in the northern and southern skies for over 16 hours.”
The aurora could not be seen in Sydney due to light pollution, but could be seen further up the coast in Gerroa (above)
Perth Observatory said the aurora was visible this far north due to a solar flare on Feb. 24 (pictured, the aurora at Perth observatory on Monday)
It is unlikely that the aurora will be visible again on Tuesday evening (pictured, the aurora in Dubbo on Monday)
Unfortunately, the intense aurora is unlikely to appear this far north on Tuesday night, as the Bureau of Meteorology predicts the line of visibility will fall below Tasmania.
However, the aurora is expected to be slightly stronger on Thursday and Friday.
Tourism Australia recommends visiting Bruny Island, Satellite Island, Cradle Mountain or Tasmania’s Central Highlands for the best views of the aurora.
It is usually most visible in winter – particularly from late May to August – and during the vernal equinox.