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