The amazing images of the “unusually bright” southern lights in New Zealand

It is not easy to observe an aurora, a phenomenon in the form of luminescence that occurs when charged particles from the Sun collide with the Earth's magnetic field.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
28 March 2023 Tuesday 05:56
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The amazing images of the “unusually bright” southern lights in New Zealand

It is not easy to observe an aurora, a phenomenon in the form of luminescence that occurs when charged particles from the Sun collide with the Earth's magnetic field. The result is a spectacular image in the sky, filled with colors, especially green and pink, but also blue and purple.

If we are near the North Pole, these phenomena are called an aurora borealis or northern lights. If we are near the South Pole, they are called an aurora australis or the southern lights. The first are observed with some ease in countries such as Finland, Norway, Iceland, northern Canada, Alaska or Greenland. The second, in Australia and New Zealand, where fans and specialists have been able to enjoy "unusually bright" auroras in recent days.

This spectacle of nature has been seen across much of New Zealand, prompting people to drive for hours to capture the best image of this elusive phenomenon, reports The Guardian. “Over the last few weeks we have seen some very, very good auroras,” says astronomer and director of the Otago Museum, Ian Griffin.

Griffin explains that, "Around this time of year, near the equinoxes, the sun's magnetic field and Earth's magnetic field align in such a way that if there's a solar storm, materials fall into Earth's magnetic field." very easily".

These southern lights are usually most visible from the South Island of New Zealand. However, in recent weeks, they have been observed as far as Auckland, on the North Island. In addition, with special intensity, he assures.

The auroras australis have not gone unnoticed by the inhabitants of New Zealand. Speaking to this outlet, Griffin explains that there are "many" places dark enough for spectacular auroras to be seen, particularly south of Christchurch on the South Island, or anywhere there isn't too much light pollution.

This astronomer notes that auroras will likely be more prominent in New Zealand's night skies until a period of solar maximum, which will occur sometime before 2026.

To observe this phenomenon, groups have even been formed that gave indications of where to go or what was the best time to see the auroras. “It really becomes a bit of an addiction, because you're always looking out for when the next dawn might be,” James O'Dea, who lives in the South Island town of Culverden, tells The Guardian.

He and his friends use apps to alert them to potential aurora detection dates and rely on weather maps to find locations with skies clear enough to take pictures.

This man assures that “many people will travel quite long distances to have a clear sky. The effort, no matter how many miles they put in, is well worth it: “You may have arrived at the location and set up the camera, snapped a picture, and when the screen comes up all covered in color, it really blows you away.”

Last Friday, O'Dea found spectacular views of the aurora australis in Kaikōura, a coastal town north of Christchurch. Observing him was not easy. The people who came had to deal with light pollution and with the thirty tourists who used their phones to capture the best photo.