The glowing greens and blues of the Aurora Australis are just as mesmerising from way up in space.
NASA has released extraordinary footage captured on June 25th 2017 by Expedition 52 of the stunning Aurora Australis as it glides over the southern hemisphere. The footage was captured via the international space station as it flew over the South of Australia and the Southern Pacific Ocean.
The Aurora Australis was seen around May earlier this year from the bottom of Tasmania.
So how are Auroras created?
According to Dr David Neudegg, Principle space and Radio Scientist in Space and Weather at the Bureau of Meteorology, Auroras originate from the very middle of our solar system, as the sun spews out plasma electrons and protons. This process is called coronal mass ejection.
The ejected plasma is travelling at 150 million kms before hitting against the Earth’s magnetic field at a whopping six million kms per hour- causing a geomagnetic storm. This storm then produces the beautiful Aurora as seen in the NASA’s satellite footage.
The Aurora is birthed by an excitation of atoms in the top most part of the atmosphere where the ejected plasma glides over the planet’s magnetic field towards both poles. Dr Neudegg explains:
As the atoms settle back down, the electrons that have been pushed up to high energy, they settle back down to their normal level and give off light.
Because the size of the shockwaves is so consuming they cover the earth, naturally gravitating towards the poles. This is why the Aurora can be seen at the same time at both poles.Our Aurora is known as Aurora Australis while the Northern is called the Aurora Borealis.
The colour green which usually appears in the Aurora is due to the molecular oxygen at lower altitudes, while the brown-red shades are due to single oxygen atoms, the more common atoms in the atmosphere.
Usually the best place to spot the Aurora Australis is at the very southern part of Australia- mainly Tassie. If the weather in space is particularly brutal it can be seen as high as the Southern Coastline of Victoria. Winter is the best time to view the Aurora because of the length of day and night.
So Tassie, keep watching the skies for our green and gold Aurora Australis.
Header: Cloudy Bay, Tasmania, Shutterstock