Aurora Australis may light up Australian skies this week
Due to heightened solar activity, avid stargazers may witness an explosion of red, green and purple light in the early hours tomorrow (Thursday).
According to Bureau of Meteorology Space Weather expert Dr Zahra Bouya, the vibrant light show rarely occurs at this time in the solar cycle and is due to a number of solar eruptions from the sun’s visible surface.
“We are currently monitoring two coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which are large clouds of plasma that are ejected from the sun and travel at high speeds through space,” she says. “They are both relatively slow moving and our model predictions have them passing over us on 15 and 16 May.”
The colourful light show will be best viewed from parts of Tasmania and southern areas of Victoria, but like its northern counterpart, the Aurora borealis, it is very difficult to predict with precision.
“While there is a greater chance that Aurora australis enthusiasts may witness the spectacular show of lights this week, it’s never guaranteed. To see the aurora, you’ll need a very dark and clear night so early morning, after the moon sets, between 3am and 5am, is best over the coming days. Headlands or a dark beach are usually the best viewing spots.”
Bureau meteorologist Philip Landvogt says the best viewing conditions in Tasmania would be along the east coast, north of Hobart, although partly cloudy conditions were currently forecast.
“In southern Victoria, cloudy skies are forecast on Wednesday with the best viewing conditions expected on Thursday night when it will be mostly clear with just some isolated fog patches,” he says.