Aurora Australis lights up night sky
Stargazers in different parts of the country had a rare treat at the weekend, spotting the Aurora Australis lighting up the night sky on two consecutive nights.
The Southern Lights were spotted from Auckland, Canterbury and the Otago Peninsula on Saturday. They then made an appearance in Wellington on Sunday, and were again spied in the sky over Canterbury.
Photographer Larryn Rae spot- ted the lights in Auckland.
He’d previously photographed the Aurora, but said Saturday night’s made ‘‘the last one look like play school’’.
What made the Aurora particularly unusual was its light beams, which Rae didn’t believe were normally spotted from Auckland.
Otago Museum director Dr Ian Griffin captured photos of the Aurora on the Otago Peninsula, on Saturday.
The rainbow colours were a ‘‘truly gorgeous display’’ caused by a geomagnetic storm - the result of a large hole in the sun’s surface.
Griffin, the former head of public outreach at Nasa’s Space Telescope Science Institute, shared some tips for spotting them.
‘‘Get away from city lights, find a place with a good view to the south and keep your fingers crossed,’’ he said.
The Aurora could be seen ‘‘surprisingly frequently’’ in New Zealand, especially from southern parts of the South Island.
‘‘I’ve lived here in Dunedin now for about four years and I’ve seen it on over 100 [occasions], I think it’s about the 159th now.
‘‘So, on average, it’s once every couple of weeks,’’ Griffin said.
Statistics for Christchurch were not as favourable because the city was further north.
‘‘But having said that you can see it quite a lot from Christchurch . . . You need to have a combination of clear skies and the Aurora going off at the same time.
‘‘[Saturday] night’s display was a pretty special one, it was seen as far north as Auckland,’’ he said.
Seeing an Aurora from Auckland was ‘‘quite rare’’.
‘‘If you go back through history, it’s once every five years or so.
‘‘Having said that, sometimes you might get two or three in a year and then one not for for 15 or 20 years.
He said seeing the Aurora in Auckland was ‘‘pretty special’’.
Larryn Rae captured the Aurora Australis from the Huia Headland back in March.