Chasing the Southern Lights near Melbourne, Australia
Friday, April 20th 2018 — Flinders, Victoria
Being back in the southern hemisphere, and as far from the polar regions as Melbourne is, seeing any auroras would seem to be quite a futile hope.
But there is an entire online community of avid aurora-chasers here, waiting for that idea opportunity to see the lights in southern Victoria or Tasmania, which happens no more than five times a year.
On one particular day in April, the auroral conditions were exceptionally strong — possibly the strongest since the big show in Helsinki in November 2017.
It was a proverbial SLAM DUNK of opportunities to actually make the effort and go down to a dark place on the south-facing coastline.
Surely enough, the aurora reports started to roll in from New Zealand just before it got dark in Australia — so this was a great chance!
Hardly containing my excitement, I decided to make my way down to the Mornington Peninsula by car, which is an hour from Melbourne.
I was greeted by clear skies, and sure enough, saw a band of very-pale green auroral light stretched across the southern horizon, even visible from inside the car!
Hurrying to get the photos rolling, the southern lights had more in mind. Pink-tinged BEAMS started to appear along the centre of that band, something astonishing to see this far from the polar region.
Hoots, yells and screams from the roughly dozen people that were at this beach happened at this moment.
And with that, the beams disappeared, and the rest of the aurora was quickly disappearing. The whole show lasted barely 15 minutes.
But it was incredible to see such a great display this close to Melbourne, one that was called the best display for 3 years, and very widely reported in the media in both Australia and around the world.
My camera tripod broke — oh well, I guess it was still worth it.
This great display prompted me to post in my university social media groups. This created great enthusiasm for the phenomenon, and so the Monash University Aurora Group was founded, and now has over 400 members.
And with that, the aurora has disappeared again for now, with a very weak solar activity period taking place, and I await the next adventure, whenever that may be.
Aurora Chase Result: 9/10
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The North Wind Adventurer was created by Tristan Pokornyi in 2017 following extended time overseas in Northern Europe. With a passion for photography, aurora chasing, outdoors activities and nature, Tristan can often be found reflecting on a past trip… or planning the next one.