Life is strange at times. How one small thing leads to another and develops into something important.
A couple of months ago, whilst visiting Mount Nelson, I saw a framed photograph of the Aurora Australis, taken at Mount Nelson.
Before that point, I had not considered that I might be able to observe the Southern Lights from Hobart, my new home town.
Over recent years, whilst living in the northern hemisphere, I’ve wanted to see the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis. It’s been on my bucket list, but from London, it’s a relatively big trip and an expensive trip to northern Norway or Sweden, to the Arctic Circle. And of course, a sighting is never guaranteed.
I am thrilled that now, I may be able to observe an aurora just a ten minute drive from my apartment.
That initial framed photograph led to a book published by a local person, led to a Facebook Group (Aurora Australis Tasmania), led to talks and a photography workshop this past weekend which are part of an annual “Aurora Australis & Night Sky Festival”.
I’m fortunate on two fronts with regards to Aurora chasing.
~ Aussie Mate is also intrigued by this natural phenomenon, so I’m not going out alone.
~ We have no work commitments yet, so we can go out late at night or early hours, without worrying about lack of sleep.
We’ve chosen a suitable location, somewhere south facing, away from the city and light pollution, with a relatively unobstructed view of the horizon. We drove to Taroona Beach at 11pm one clear night, to check it out. It’s a good choice. We chatted to a local lady who was walking her dog. She’s seen a few, with a memorable one just a couple of years back when it was right overhead, not just in the distance. We went back the next day, in daylight, to explore the area, the beach and costal path.
I’ve learnt that there are apps and websites that forecast aurora activity. So this is a help. All times are logged in Universal Time so I add ten hours. Some aurora last a few minutes, some for a few hours.
As with all natural things, there is a bit of luck involved.
~ The aurora needs to be in our night time.
~ The weather needs to be good for clear skies.
~ You need to be able to drop everything and go out, now.
We have gone out at 11.30pm and spent an hour or so, standing on the beach. We spoke to another couple, there for the same purpose (but better equipped than us, wrapped up in blankets).
We have set the alarm and gone out at 5am.
We have gone out for a walk at 1.15 am (as we’ve both had a few glasses of wine so couldn’t drive). The location within walking distance is free of light pollution but does not face directly south, so not ideal.
We have seen a faint green glow on two occasions, but nothing spectacular. But it’s promising to have observed these hints of aurora.
We will continue the chase. One day I’m sure we’ll see the full glory of an aurora. We know it’s possible, as there have been some amazing photos from amateur observers on the facebook page. Here is one from Taroona Beach taken by Becca Lunnon.