Australian Weather Calendar: March 2015
Aurora australis over the Hazard Mountains from Coles Bay, Tasmania
An alert on his tour guide's phone while in Tasmania told Ben Fewtrell he might get to see the aurora australis, or southern lights. 'Well that was an opportunity I wasn't going to say no to,' says Ben. Most of the tour group at Coles Bay that night were driven away by rain, but Ben stayed until the sky cleared.
Auroras occur when high-powered particles ejected from the sun collide with molecules in the earth's atmosphere; the green and red colours Ben saw are likely associated with oxygen molecules. While more commonly seen in the polar regions, the southern lights are occasionally seen as far north as the Australian mainland—an aurora photograph in last year's Weather Calendar, was taken near Margaret River in Western Australia.
To improve your chances of catching the southern lights, sign up to the Bureau's free email alerts or paid SMS messages, which identify locations and times expected to be conducive to auroras at www.ips.gov.au/mailman/listinfo/ips-aurora-alert. Ben used a 30 seconds exposure to capture the dancing streaks of light that make up an aurora, with a D800 Nikon camera and a 14–24 mm lens.