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'Huge naked-eye beams': Spectacular Aurora Australis lights up the southern skies.

Summary: People were treated to a stellar show on Sunday when the phenomena lit up the skies of Tasmania and New Zealand's South Island

By Anna Livsey, Guardian

Canberra: The southern most points of Australia and New Zealand have been treated to an extraordinary spectacle as unusually colourful Aurora Australis lights swept across the skies.

Images and video of the event have flooded social media, with the Aurora Australis Tasmania Facebook page, which counts more than 52,000 members, proving to be a focal point for people to share what they captured.

Speaking to the ABC, founder of the group, Margaret Sonnemann said that Sunday night's aurora had 'huge naked-eye beams' which was not always the case but warned those chasing the light display should not count on what they see in the sky matching the photographs seen online.

A strong Aurora Australis can be predicted using planetary index or KP numbers, which are a measure of geomagnetic activity that increases on a scale of 0-9 according to geomagnetic strength.

Sunday's aurora came with a KP number of 7, meaning it could be easily viewed from Tasmania and the southern end of New Zealand's South Island. Tasmanian Aurora watcher and photographer, Garth Smith said that he didn't have to wait long to capture the spectacle. "The [KP] numbers were off the dial during our daytime," he said.

"We knew it was going to happen and were just waiting for it to get dark and for the clouds to disappear, which luckily happened at about the same time."

He said he was out for less than an hour in total although others wouldn't have been so lucky, estimating some could have spent six or more hours waiting for a top shot.

Another aurora watcher and photographer, Julie Head of Squeaking Point in north-west Tasmania captured the display at different times during the evening, with one photo managing to include the lights, the sunset and multiple satellites. Photographers used the hashtag #auroraustralis to post beautiful images of the colourful skies on Twitter.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:May 29, 2017
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