2015 November 07 (local Melbourne time)

Despite the paucity of large and active sunspot groups, significant auroral activity continued through November as a result of solar wind gusts from coronal holes. However an M3 class flare on the 4th November was predicted to strike the Earth's magnetic field on or around the 7th. hopefully with aurorae expected to be visible after dark from southern Australia. The predictions proved to be correct. 

I was attending a star party at the Little Desert Lodge, Nhill, Victoria, and my astronomical friends reported naked eye beams and faint colours to the south just after astronomical twilight had ended. Although I had my camera set up to take photos of the southern sky from sunset onwards (I was attending a nocturnal feeding tour enjoying the bettongs and bush stone curlews) I missed the half hour of strongest activity (21:30-21:50h ADST) due to battery running out. Nevertheless I continued to take photos from 22:05h, as I could see faint glows to the south, but wasn't sure whether it was light from towns to the south or auroral glow. Examining the images later on the computer confirmed that they were indeed auroral. Observers at the time indicated that the vertical extent of the glow was to the height of the Large Magellanic Cloud, or close to 40 in elevation.

Here's one image for the record.


11:30UT, looking south, the Southern Cross and b Centauri are hidden behind the trees. The tail of Scorpius is the lower right and the Large Magellanic Cloud and Canopus are upper left and stars are reflected in the foreground pond. Canon 5D II + 14mm f2.8 lens at f3.2, 30secs, ISO800. Selected settings assumed a stronger display, hence the dark foreground.


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