Aurora Australis Beams Vertical Light Rays In Tasmania
Nature is providing its own special effects in this stunning video of the Aurora Australis (the southern Aurora), out of the island of Tasmania. It isn't just the superb iridescent green color that makes this light show spectacular, but the vertical "picket fence" formation. The drama was captured on November 5.
As a prelude to what's to come, cotton ball clouds roll in an orderly pattern from west to east. The magnificent sky deepens to a midnight blue above, while the horizon is a band of lighter blue. Stars begin to twinkle through the layer of moving clouds, and an occasional shooting star bursts forth, sputtering, and then dying.
Above the iridescent green “pickets” is a violet display that fades into the dark night sky. The video is living, moving art, as the canvas changes from moment to moment. The colors contrast, nothing is plain and ordinary. In fact, the event is extraordinary. When night does take over dusk, stars splash across the sky as if they are beings coming out to socialize.
The auroras are like crowns on the earth. Circling the polar extremities of our planet, there is an aurora at the south pole, the Aurora Australis (this one in this video), and an aurora circling the north pole, the Aurora Borealis. They are composed of particles that literally ignite (ionize) when solar particles entering the atmosphere strike gas atoms. They work something like neon or fluorescent lights. The different gases that make up our atmosphere are the reason for the different colors. Oxygen gives off a greenish color, while nitrogen is responsible for the reds. Of course, combinations of violet, blue, and red give us heavenly purples.
The amazing video is far more than just an aurora, as we can see. Everything comes into play. It is an orchestra whose instruments are visual elements rather than auditory, and what of the Grand Conductor? Aurora displays are accessible to anyone living in the right location, at the right time. What makes this video so splendid and different to the casual observer who steps outdoors is the time lapse. Normally things of the sky move so slowly, that each minute seems to be a discrete scene, and the scenes change very little from minute to minute. Here, though, we get to see a much more active drama play out, and the understanding that the sky isn’t empty, but is filled with activity becomes clear.
The vertical stripes are ethereal, and seem to have broken free from the main base of the aurora. They ripple afar above the horizon, contrasting against the audience of the Milky Way, which is also beautifully apparent in this video. The camera pans to the left—eastward, pacing with the clouds. The background, though, seems to stay put. We see flashing glimpses of jets and satellites. And, oh that Milky Way again! Millions of stars painted in mottled textures of lumps and creases. We have filmmaker Tim Grimsey to thank for this hypnotic spectacle. We can’t wait to be treated to the next show.