Southern skies lit up by aurora

Aurora australis visible over Christchurch

Last updated 15:39 30/06/2013

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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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