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Solar blast to light up NZ skies tonight

The New Zealand sky could be lit up by the Aurora Australis, or Southern Lights, tonight after American space agency Nasa detected a solar blast heading towards earth.

The flare, consisting of large clouds of charged particles, will probably have no noticeable consequences apart from possibly causing aurora which Nasa described as “rippling dancing curtains of green and red light”.

Stargazers who live in the South Island will have a better chance of catching a glimpse of the aurora as the effect is stronger closer to both poles.

Stardome Observatory Astronomer Dr Grant Christie said it had been the sun’s longest quiet period in a century.

“We were hoping that the sun wasn’t totally comatose and it was going to come to life again and it looks like that’s happening,” said Dr Christie. What’s unusual is it’s taken it a long time to do that.”

The aurora is caused as the particles ejected from the sun interacted with earth’s magnetic field, creating a geomagnetic storm, Nasa said.

Solar particles then stream down the field lines toward Earth’s poles and collide with atoms of nitrogen and oxygen in the atmosphere, resulting in spectacular night time displays in the sky.

– Newstalk ZB, NZPA,

– Homepage image, NASA


brendon on 3/08/2010 10:09pm

Really, no one seen the aurora australis last night?????? dissapointing.

WW Forecast Team on 3/08/2010 10:58pm

No – and our official WeatherWatch news reporter in Invercargil, Malcolm Gayfer, said there were no sightings either.  Agree – very disappointing!

– Philip Duncan

brendon on 3/08/2010 11:09pm

I wonder if there were any sightings in Tasmania or Melbourne? Or even the Chattams

JohnGaul on 3/08/2010 8:44am

too cloudy, sadly, but I’ve seen these types of auroras before.


Guest on 3/08/2010 8:01am

hi what time?

WW Forecast Team on 3/08/2010 8:51am

Look out all evening/night… should be present for a long time

Claire on 3/08/2010 7:58am

Oh, no, disappointing on a night when visibility disappears in a veil of mist a few feet above ground!

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