southern lights


Most of the time we have all concentrated on the northern lights also known as the aurora borealis which lights up the northern sky with colorful swirls of magic and an astonishing display of lights. We rarely talk about the southern lights which are also known as or called the Aurora Australis. They are a counterpart to the northern lights, equally beautiful and amazing. They are also one of nature’s most spectacular light show which in return for all the cold weather serves as a reward to the people living in the far south.

How the southern lights occur

Just like its counterpart, the southern lights occur when the electrically charged particles from the sun are introduced into the atmosphere by solar winds. The electrically charged particles then interact with the earth’s magnetic field and natural gasses. The interactions of the electrically charged particles will then results in dramatic colors which show across the southern sky. These dramatic colors across the southern sky are known as the Aurora Australis.

Unlike the northern lights which mostly has green colors in its display, the southern lights most of the time offers astonishing set of colors which includes purples, pinks, oranges, and gold in its palette. They also occur in a ring or band. They more or less centered on the south magnetic pole with a radius of approximately 2,500 km.

The best time and perfect conditions to see the Aurora Australis

This phenomenon is so much more elusive than the northern lights. Why? because the amount of land in the southern hemisphere is much smaller than that of the northern hemisphere. They are best seen during the peak years of the 11-year solar cycle and this is because the solar wind blows in violent flurry more often this time.

The southern lights don’t run on a schedule, therefore they are not predictable. Unfortunately, they tend to happen or show in the sky within only 30 minutes of notice. Even though the aurora generally occurs all year round, the best time to see them is during the winter months which run from March to September. It is also best seen during the midnight when the sun is at the opposite side or another side of the earth to where you are.

The perfect conditions that must be met for you to see the southern lights are:

  • Clear winter nights
  • Zero light pollution(dark, dark, and more dark)
  • When the moon is at its darkest

For you to know when to see the Aurora Australis there are a lot of websites you can check for Aurora Australis forecast.

Where to see the Aurora Australis

There are some places in the world where you can see the southern lights even though seeing the lights can be tricky.  Some of the best places are:

New Zealand

Stewart Island which is also known as the land of the glowing skies in New Zealand is one of the best places where you can see the southern lights. It is a place located in the southern extremity of New Zealand. This place has a large national park and a wide range of accommodation available. For you to improve the chance of seeing the lights, try traveling or visiting this location during the winter months when there are fewer daylight hours. Due to its sparse population, it is very hard to experience any light pollution.

There are also some other locations in New Zealand where you can see the Aurora Australis and these are the Catlins, Lake Tekapo, and Aoraki Mt. Cook National Park.

South Georgia

This is a place encased by sea ice for most time of the year but you can go there around March. It is one of the southern-most islands in the world. Visiting Southern Georgia in March is a great time to see the southern lights. There are cruises that will take you to South Georgia if you are ready to visit.

Falkland Islands

It is a small group of Islands that lie around 400 miles off the coast of South America. It is a place of unique beauty with amazing wildlife. If you are looking for a decent and incredible place to see the southern lights, Falkland Island is one. For your best chance of seeing the lights, you need to head down between April and August. These are the best months as there are fewer daylights and a greater chance of spotting something in the sky.

Ushuaia, Argentina

Ushuaia is a place located at the far southern point of Argentina. This place which is the world’s most southern city, therefore, it is a good location to see the aurora. It is a place that is easy to get to because it has its own airport.  

The Antarctica

As unrealistic as it sounds, the Antarctica is one of the best places in the world where you can see the southern lights. In this location, the lights are most impressive, most active, and most visible. There are many ways of getting to this place during the winter even though it can sometimes be dangerous and very costly.

You can also see the aurora in Tasmania which is the isolated Island state off Australia south coast. This place also has large, rugged areas of wilderness. The Southern Lights Hotel is also one of the hotels to see the Aurora Australis.

You can see an amazing and a wonderful display of the Aurora Australis in any of the locations mentioned above.

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