Southern skies lit up by aurora

03:39, Jun 30 2013
aurora australis
Aaron Campbell took this photo near Lake Ellesmere.
aurora australis
The green hue seen in this photo was visible to the naked eye.
Aurora australis
This photo was taken near Kennedy Bush in Christchurch.

Christchurch skies were set alight with an array of colours as aurora australis made an appearance last night. 

Photographer Aaron Campbell took photos of the natural light phenomenon, caused by the collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in high altitude atmospheres, from West Melton.

Canterbury Astronomical Society Aurora and solar specialist Orlon Petterson said aurora could happen at any time, but would become more common in the coming years as we headed into another "solar maximum" phase in the sun's 11-year cycle.

 Petterson said people wanted to catch a look at it in the future were most likely to see it in the hours close to midnight, and they should look towards the south to south-west.

The red and green glow was due to oxygen and nitrogen, he said. "It's a fantastic sight."

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