Last updated May 20, 2019 at 11:15 am
Forget Norway and the Aurora Borealis – the Southern Lights – Aurora Australis – will light up the skies above Tasmania and parts of Victoria this week.
People keep going on about Aurora Borealis – the northern lights famous for dancing a colourful display across the sky. But this week the southern hemisphere’s own southern lights Aurora Australis will be visible from Australia. And like the northern version, they’re not to be missed.
On Wednesday and Thursday nights this week the incredible lights may be visible from Tasmania and southern parts of Victoria.
Aurora Australis not to be missed
It’s relatively rare for the Aurora Australis to be visible from the Australian mainland – although Tasmania’s southern position lets them see it more often. Currently the solar cycle is in a point which also makes Aurora Australis less common.
However, the Bureau are currently monitoring two coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from the sun’s surface. The large clouds of plasma are both moving relatively slowly between the Sun and Earth, with model predictions expecting them to pass over us on 15 and 16 May.
“When this material reaches Earth, most of it is deflected by the planet’s magnetic field. But as the CME passes over the Earth its magnetic field may connect with ours allowing huge amounts of energy to be transferred to our magnetic field, generating geomagnetic storms that can last for two or three days and produce dramatic auroras over successive nights,” says the Bureau’s Space Weather expert Dr Zahra Bouya.
For the best chance to see the Aurora (remember it’s never guaranteed, unfortunately), your best bet is to stake out a headland or dark beach after the moon sets – between 3am and 5am.
Weather not playing ball
Unfortunately the weather isn’t playing ball, with the best viewing locations along the east coast of Tasmania currently forecast to have partly cloudy conditions.
For Victoria cloudy skies are forecast on Wednesday, so the best chance of spotting Aurora Australis may be on Thursday night when it will be mostly clear with some isolated fog patches.