Aurora Australis

Auroral reflections, Cape Dromedary, 19 September 2023

Mystery Bay, Eurobodalla Coast, South Coast, New South Wales 19 September 2023

On 19 September 2023 at around 3:00 am a coronal mass ejection (CME) started to impact Earth's magnetic field triggering a beautiful display of the Aurora Australis.

Fortunately, I was down the South Coast visiting an unwell family member and I started my hunt after I saw the solar wind readings at Handkerchief Beach accessible from the Narooma Beach Discovery Park. My shots taken from the Bech did not show anyone, but undeterred I headed to Corunna Lake where my first shots showed a nice red glow to the south. A closer examination of some of the shots also showed the purple and purple gems that appeared later in the morning.

As the southern horizon was partially obscured by the hills surrounding Corunna Lake, I decided to head to Mystery Bay. This time I did not shoot from the lookout, but decided to walk out along the sand bar that is Cape Dromedary to try and capture the aurora thee.

I was not disappointed, the most amazing delicate purple beams were shooting up from the horizon, it was an amazing sight and the reflections were amazing too!


Reflections of the Aurora Australis on Corunna Lake during a solar storm

Aurora Australis over Mystery Bay

Aurora Australis display from Mystery Bay

Auroral reflections, Cape Dromedary

Corunna Lake and Mystery Bay, Narooma, Eurobodalla Coast, South Coast, New South Wales 12 to 13 September 2023

By chance I was out at Corunna Lake and various sites imaging the setting Milky Way when I noticed colour appearing to the south. It was the Aurora Australis, and what turned out to be a magnificent stay because of a coronal mass ejection hitting directly and not a glancing blow as first thought.

Aurora Australis and setting Milky Way arch over Corunna Lake, 12 Sept 2023

Three beams of the Aurora Australis

The Aurora Australis viewed from the Mystery Bay lookout.

Aurora Australis, Mystery Bay, 13 Sept 2023

Auroras Australis viewed from Mystery Bay lookout, 13 Sept 2023

Aurora Australis, Mystery Bay

Cape Tourville, Freycinet National Park Tasmania, 21/22 May 2023

On 21 May 2023, David Marriott and I imaged the night sky from Freycinet National Park near Coles Bay. We had driven there after doing some photography at Mt Field National Park to try and get some clear skies for astrophotography.

We noticed before we headed out that there was some minor activity in the solar winds reading which was reflected in a promising auroral oval projection. The Bz, a great indicator, was reading "south" and had been so for several hours which was good. We both didn't say it but we individually didn't think there would be any activity on the auroral front. In fact, I even remarked to Dave that it was a privilege to be there under such dark and unspoilt skies even if there was no aurora. The Emu was majestic in all its glory high in the sky when we arrived and set up our tripods and cameras at around 9:50 pm. I decided to image the Emu high in the sky and was delighted with how the raw shots appeared on the camera.

Due to our location, we were limited to 8 second exposures.

Shots from our chosen vantage point facing due south did not show any aurora. Periodically we checked our aurora apps to note that the auroral oval was expanding and that the Bz had got further negative which was good.

Because of the clear skies I started experimenting with images with really high ISOs like 12,500 and 16,000 to better bring out the foreground and also any air glow. David had also noticed there was some bioluminescence in the water. It was during my high ISO shots that I noticed what was unmistakably the aurora, albeit not particularly strong in my images. Within about 15 minutes David remarked that he could see white beams. I couldn't see them initially but then they were seen quite easily in the dark southern sky. The first shot was taken around this peak in activity of the beams at around 11:25 pm on 21 May 2023. I love the subtlety of the display. It was taken with a 24 mm lens at ISO 3200 at f2 for 8 seconds. All other shots were taken with similar setting on the 35 mm or 14 mm lens.

After about half an hour the beams subsided with the aurora getting stronger yellows and greens and I could see isolated patches of yellow forming over parts of the mountain range before us. Towards the end we could see the bottom of the auroral arc in our shots. The colours were amazing.

It's a night I will never forget and such a blessing after having invested so much time finding great sites for the aurora that had occurred the night before to find that we were clouded out after a beautiful sunny start to the day. It is the highlight so far of our nine day trip and we have another 5 nights to go!

I am so enjoying revisiting the state that had been my home in the late 80s and early 90s when I shot my first aurora on a film camera in March 1989.


Thebeautiful aurora viewed from the Cape Tourville lighthouse on 21 May 2023

Subtle beams at around 11:37 pm on 21 May 2023

A wide view of the ongoing aurora showing the southern sky region including the Magellanic Clouds using the 14 mm lens

This shot of the Emu (15 photos stacked in starry sky stacker) illustrates the quality of the skies at Cape Tourville which makes it a brilliant location to shoot the aurora

Cape Tourville, Tasmania 22 May 2023 (pm)

On the night of 22 May 2023 we returned to the lighthouse at Cape Tourville and was treated to another beautiful display of the Aurora Australis.

Narooma, NSW 24 March 2023

Chasing the Aurora Australis from north of Sydney

I have recently located to the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia, living about 120 km north of Australia's biggest city, Sydney. Follow my adventures in chasing the Aurora Australis here.

Aurora Australis, just south of Norah Head, Central Coast of NSW, 15 February 2023

The following images are of the Aurora Australis from the NSW Central Coast, 15 February 2023.

A coronal mass ejection (CME) had interacted with the Earth's magetosphere triggering bright auroral action to be visible in camera, many hundreds of kilometres north of where it is more commonly imaged.

On this evening at around 8:30 pm I jumped in the car after seeing a forecast from David Hunter and also examining the solar wind data that predicted possible auroral activity that could be photographed north of Sydney. To be honest I wasn't expecting much being this far north (geographic latitude 33 degrees 17 minutes south) but I was to my delight to be treated to a lovely little display of the Aurora Australis with pink beams.

My original destination was Norah Head about 20 km south from where I live but whilst I had scoped the area out during the day, I had not appreciated that the local Council Locks gates providing access to the light house car park about an hour after dark (probably to stop illegal camping). So I decided to head a couple of kms further south to Soldiers Point which I had never visited. I enquired at the local surf club whether their access would be affected by another gate which was signposted as to be locked after dark and was advised yes and to park outside the gate which I did. A short 500 m walk brought me to a fantastic grassy platform about 6 metres high than the rock shelf to the north of Solders Point. It was warm and the spot was a great spot to set up my tropical and set up a timelapse.

To my delight I started getting auroral colour almost immediately (I even questioned whether it was given my location), but playing back a few shots the movement of the auroral beams was unmistakeable.

The setting used were a Nikon D850, Sigma Art 24 mm lens stopped to f2.8, ISO 1000 for 25 seconds.

I capped off the evening (at around 1:10 am with shots of the rising crescent moon and constellation Scorpius.

It was a wonderful evening/night/morning out. In the shots you can see the pink beams of the aurora under the Southern Cross (to the left) and with the light pollution from The Entrance, Gosford and of course Sydney to the right of the image..

I hope this inspires people in the Sydney area to get out under the stars and to try and capture the magic of the aurora themselves. There should be more opportunities as we progress to solar maximum in 2025.

#AuroraAustralis #SydneyAurora #Aurora #VisitSydney #VisitCentralCoaast

Aurora Australis viewed from near Soldiers Point just south of Norah Head, New South Wales at a latitude of 33 degrees 17 minutes south

Aurora from south of Norah Head

Another shot of the Aurora Australis showing its pink beams near Norah Head

The beautiful pink beams of the Aurora Australis viewed about 90 km north of Sydney

Aurora Australis, Central Coast

Werriwa, NSW, 24 April 2023

Chasing the Aurora Australis in the Canberra & Snowy Mountains areas

Apart from the moon phase and the all important question of weather, my decisions to go and chase the Aurora Australis from my home in the southern outskirts of Canberra are heavily data driven. I subscribe to alerts from the helpful website When I receive an alert, I then monitor the Canberra magnetometer from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology website which indicates disturbance to our local magnetic field by solar activity. I look for ascending readings. In addition, I monitor closely the solar gauges from the DSCOVR and ACE space probes available on I look for heightened solar wind speeds and other parameters in the solar wind such as its magnetic direction and density. Certain solar features on the Sun such as coronal holes may persist several months an I have successfully photographed auroral displays by anticipating the next rotation of the feature by adding 27 days.

I cover the principles of aurora forecasting in my Introduction to Night Sky Photography and Aurora forecasting course and provide detailed notes on my approach.

Now is the time to learn about aurora forecasting as solar activity picks up after solar minimum!

Cooma area, 20 April 2018

Heightened solar activity indicated by escalating readings on the Canberra magnetometer and solar wind readings led to the hasty decision to try and capture photographs of the aurora just to the south of where I live. fortunately a friend had given me the handy tip that there were bushfires in the Adaminaby area. This later helped inform a last minute decision to move to another site which I thought would be smoke free as my first choice was blanked by smoke from the fires.

After about 9o minutes in the car, I arrived at my chosen site full in the knowledge it provided a clear view south, with no light pollution to tarnish the image of the aurora. I hastily set up the camera in the middle of the road and obtained the first image in the sequence below. My jaw nearly dropped to the ground, as I had never seen a display like it in mainland Australia.

Namadgi National Park, Australian Capital Territory, 5 August 2019

This series of shots were taken from a locality known as Legoland due to the massive granite tors found in the area. Sadly the area was ravaged by bushfires in January 2020 so access is not permitted until the area is deemed safe from damaged trees. The spot provides an elevated view south over the Orroral valley a significant site involved with the lunar landings. The site is also near Honeysuckle Creek near the former tracking station that was instrumental in picking up the first images taken from Apollo 11.

The scene was gently lit by a crescent moon and also brought out a bit of purple in the aurora. the two whitish clouds in the shots are the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.

Dodging the fog - Bredbo area 12 May 2021

On 12 May 2021, the solar wind readings surged in the late afternoon, including density levels at around 50 protons per second. The Bz readings were close to minus 20. On that information alone it was possible that the aurora would be visible at least in camera. The only question was would this activity hold and could we find clear skies with some fog persistently blowing into the Canberra area from the north. Fried David Marriott and I drove down past Williamsdale and we very nearly turned around but for some reason we decided to press on. We reached clear skies just north of Bredbo and hastily set up our cameras. By this time fabulous shots were rolling in from further south in southern Victoria and Tasmania but apart from some fabulous looking air glow, there was no aurora (see the first photo). Within a couple of minutes of the first photo, suddenly bright red flames could be seen near the horizon under the two Magellanic Clouds (photo 2). From these I knew the aurora had started to be visible. This shot highlights the difference between airglow visually with the airglow being the more diffuse orange glow seen in the sky higher up and with the aurora the much more definite strong red colour closer to the horizon and constantly changing shape. The later shots how the extent of the aurora including some beams shortly after and taken over the next 90 minutes or so. We had to constantly move because the fog kept invading our space necessitating moving further away from the Bredbo River and to higher ground along the Jerangle Road.

Aurora Australis over Mt Tennant (Tharwa area) ACT 1 November 2021

i nearly missed this aurora!

I as out checking out a site for a future workshop with friend David Marriott and at around 9:30 pm I received a text from another friend in the UK that the CME from a X1 class solar flare appeared to have arrived.

We immediately checked the solar weather gauges again on our apps on our phones and we noticed that the speed of the solar wind has increased suddenly from about 380 km per second to around 430 km per second. The density of the solar wind (protons per cubic cm) had risen to about 15 and the Bz had dropped to around minus 6 and was forecast in about 50 minutes to descend to around -8. The Bt was around 12 all really good readings.

Rather than returning home, we decided to see if we could capture the aurora down in the Namadgi National Park. Before we left an area covered by mobile phone reception, we noticed the readings had really improved - Bz was around -10, speed up to around 454 km/s and density had climbed to about 17. These readings persisted but we saw no aurora in our images. The forecast was good and I suggested we head to a further site south in the park where there was a very good elevated view south to try and capture the aurora. Unfortunately the site was out of mobile phone coverage but I felt quietly excited that we would capture the aurora on our cameras given my understanding of the solar ind readings and predictions.

Alas the lady did not arrive and as it was getting late on a night before work for both of us we headed home trying another spot on the way home in case the aurora has started.

No such fortune. I dropped my friend off at his place and headed home, a bit disappointed. For some reason I decided to look at the Glendale app which is brilliant and noticed that reports from as far north as Albury, NSW had come in two minutes earlier that aurora was visible.

I reasoned that since I was only about 55 km north of Albury at my location in the southern part of Canberra and jumped in the car and drove don to near Tharwa where I obtained the images above. Unfortunately a fog rolled in obscuring the aurora so I drove to a couple of sites nearby but the southern sky was no longer visible.

The aurora was a satisfying out come and varied from a nice pink to deeper red in the images taken with my cameras. The setting were: suing a 14 mm Sigma Art lens set at f1.8, exposed for 10 seconds at ISO 2500 and a Sigma Art 24 mm lens set to f1.4 and exposed for 6 seconds at ISO 2500.

I wish everyone clear skies.

As auroral activity is likely to ramp up I ill be again running my aurora forecasting and photography field trips so you too can know the basic information and when to head out and try and photograph the southern lights.


Chasing the Aurora Australis between Wagga Wagga and Narrandera, New South Wales 4-5 November 2021

An opportunity not to be missed!

On the Thursday 4 November 2021, I had arranged to go and see my daughter who lives in Wagga Wagga, it was the first time I had seen her since June/July this year due to COVID restrictions and lockdowns

I was aware that the aurora forecast was amazing but due to heavy rain in the Canberra area and the weather forecast for Wagga Wagga which predicted lots of rain, it was hard to take the usual interest as it looked like our La Nina conditions were going to interfere with imaging the aurora.

When I arrived at my daughter's place at around 7:45 pm, I quickly looked at the gauges and the auroral oval was huge. I had also noticed driving the 275 km west that there had been some openings in the cloud with some blue sky but I did not know how large the ears of clear sky were. I decided to check the Australian Bureau of Meteorology satellite image of the cloud and much to my amazement noticed a large opening in the cloud about 40km to the west and extending out past Narrandera to the north west about 100 km away.

I jumped in the car and about 40 km west of Wagga the cloud became scattered. I stopped beside the Sturt Highway and shot off a few images at ISO 2500 for 15 seconds using my Sigma 24 mm lens set to f2.5. My back of camera view showed a strong purple colour behind and in the gaps of the clouds (image 1) The colour was wonderful.

I then proceeded further northwest to try and get a clear view to the south but a layer of cloud obscuring the lowest part of the horizon stubbornly persisted. I drove along a narrow dirt road and set a time-lapse up of two nice shaped gum trees, pinks and some organs could be seen in the back of the camera. When the images were processed I was amazed at the colours from the Aurora taken about 25 km east of Narrandera. It was my first aurora capture from north of the 35 degree south parallel - an amazing 34 degrees south.

The aurora was predicted to have been visible from the southern bit of Queensland (approx 28-29 degrees south) but I noticed the colours were slowly tapering off and it was evident that the north was going to see it this time.

Cloud constantly shifted and there were large areas of fog moving around, possibly as I was not too far from the Murrumbidgee River and there had been a lot of rain in the days beforehand.

However, I was happy with the results.

Incredibly, when I drove back the 90 km back to Wagga Wagga I was hit by a torrential rainstorm and had to slow right down as the Sturt Highway became flooded in parts. It was an epic night indeed, one I will long remember.

The Aurora Australis viewed from about 40 km north west of Wagga Wagga, New South Wales

The Aurora Australis viewed from 25 km south east of Narrandera, NSW

Another epic aurora chase to the west of Canberra involving more than a 400 km round trip!

Gundagai and Wantabadgery

On 3 February the gauges were booming and I felt it was worth trying to capture the Aurora Australis again, I drew this to the attention of good friend David Marriott and we decided to head off.

The problem was where to go as the weather may showed persistent cloud all down the eastern side of NSW including the ACT.

However, it appeared to be clear just to the west of Yass. This was not my favoured choice as Yass and surrounds is about 75 km further north than where I live and about 130 km further north of the northern part fog the Snowy Mountains thus reducing the amount of aurora like to be seen. this prediction. proved to be accurate but I obtained the following images.

The Aurora Australis from near Gundagai, NSW

A wee display of the Aurora Australis from the Bobundara Road, south of Cooma NSW, 19 December 2022

On 19 December 2022, I headed down to Cooma way, mainly with the aim of taking some images with a glass sphere of the stars but there was also the possibility of an aurora.

This shows the diffuse Aurora Australis from the Bobundara Road at around 10:10 pm on 19 December 2022. I was delighted the aurora turned up.

Settings were: Sigma Art 14 mm lens stopped down to f2.8, ISO 3200 for 15 seconds.

It was fantastic to have clear skies although clouds moved in around midnight.


Aurora Australis, Bobundara Road, Cooma, NSW Australia

The Aurora, with the Magellanic Clouds above them on a perfectly still and dark Summer night down the Monaro Plains

A selection of other shots of the Aurora Australis

This contains some selected shots of the Aurora Australis taken from near my home.

Tharwa, 27 April 2017

Williamsdale, 11 September 2015