Aurorae, southern and northern

04 July, 2010

Particles thrown out from the Sun strike the Earth's atmosphere so hard that they break down gases into plasma, creating the Aurorae.
Particles thrown out from the Sun strike the Earth's atmosphere so hard that they break down gases into plasma, creating the Aurorae.
Source: Copyright Museum Victoria

Question: Is there a difference between the Northern Lights and the Southern Lights?

Answer: Not really! The only difference between the aurora borealis and the aurora australis is the hemisphere where the phenomena can be observed. Both of them are caused by streams of particles from the Sun colliding with gases in the Earth’s ionosphere. In the southern hemisphere, the aurora can usually only be observed from high southern latitudes. If you are interested in seeing this beautiful display, try signing up for the “aurora alert” service from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Comments (4)

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Nathan 7 June, 2012 23:10
how fare north can aurora be seen in
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Discovery Centre 15 June, 2012 13:43
Hi Nathan,
The Aurora Australis is only visible from the southern latitudes and is very unlikely to be seen north of the 30 degree line of latitude.

The aurora is associated with solar wind activity and is most prevalent at the peak of the eleven year sun spot cycles, and the three years afterwards.

The best places to see an Aurora Australis in the Australasia region would be Tasmania or New Zealand, away from cities and other sources of artificial light pollution. The following website, http://www.spaceweather.com/, allows you to see on each day the current area that aurora can be seen.
Christina 16 July, 2011 06:42
WOW!!!!To see a natural beauty like that would be so mentially rewarding, would be life changing...Wicked!!
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Shane Martin 12 August, 2010 20:24
what a wounderful sight too see in one's life time
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