Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Solar storms help treat S. Australia to rare Aurora view

Parts of southern Australia were spectacularly lit up by Aurora Australis on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, following increased solar flare activity from the sun.

Parts of Victoria, Tasmania and even as far north as New South Wales were privy to one of nature's most colorful shows, with red, pink and green aurora light filling the sky.

Seldom seen above Australia's southernmost state of Tasmania, the "southern lights" made spectacular viewing for aurora chasers and photographers who braved near-freezing conditions in the early hours of Wednesday morning, with some spotting lights on Tuesday night as well.

Solar weather expert Matt Francis told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Wednesday that a rare, high-intensity eruption on the sun's surface had sent solar particles towards earth, which have combined with earth's magnetic fields to produce the dazzling array of light.

"We had some pretty spectacular activity in the early hours of (Wednesday) morning and that's been continuing through the daylight hours," he said.

The Bureau of Meteorology's Dr. Richard Marshall said the lights were a common occurrence in Tasmania, but the current solar storms pushing the lights as far north as New South Wales were the result of an 11-year solar weather cycle hitting its peak.

"Normally we'll see them around Tasmania, which are the lower level magnetic storms," he told Fairfax Media.

"Seeing them that far north means it is quite a severe storm."

Marshall said a series of three storms had combined to create the one that covered Victoria and crept into New South Wales.

But Francis said expects the strong activity to continue into Wednesday evening, again giving keen photographers the chance to take photos of the rare occurrence.

"We expect tonight we'd also have another great aurora show," he said. 

   Xinhua -

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