The Aurora From Sthrn New Zealand

HAVE YOU OBSERVED AN AURORA?, Then fill out a report form
All aurora pics are from a large bright display during mid November 1998

I reckon that aurorae should be classed as one of the great wonders of nature. I have observed these spectactular displays of light in the night sky since childhood. Back in those innocent days my mum and dad were adament that the aurorae were caused by the sun reflecting off the ice at the South Pole producing a rainbow effect. Talking to many people over the years, I discovered that this was a popular explanation and was very widespread. As I grew more wise in astronomy, I found it quite difficult to convince my parents of the true cause of those wonderful displays. The crunch came with the argument that if their explanation was true then why did we see aurorae in the middle of winter when there was 6 months of darkness down in Antartica....ah.... got ya.

Over the last 10 yrs I have enjoyed auroral photography and for those of you that may be interested in getting started it couldn't be easier. A standard 35mm SLR camera, tripod, and a shutter cable release. Film.... over the years I have tried many but have settled with Fuji HR400 as it produces good colour renditions. Set the camera focus to infinity, the shutter speed to the 'B' position and then the cable release can be used to do up to one minute exposures without jarring the camera.

NOTE: When you take the film in to be developed warn the staff of the type of photos on the film, the dark images may throw them. Once developed and printed discuss the results and offer suggestions... Stick with the same company so that they get used to your requirements in astro- photography... I have found this very valuable over the years.

Some aurora are very quiet displays...An arc, a glowing patch or maybe several lonesome rays. But as solar max. approaches in ~2000, large solar flare activity will produce some intense displays and you will be rewarded with some awesome photos. So prepare now and get some camera practice in on some of the present activity that comes from time to time.

Page Last Updated 02 Feb. 2002

Dave Nelson