'Extremely rare' Aurora stuns stargazers

01:40, Feb 20 2014
Aurora by David Weir/Earth and Sky
AURORA AUSTRALIS: The reds and pinks seen in this month's display are uncommon.

An "extremely rare" display of the Aurora Australis has delighted stargazers in the Mackenzie district overnight.

Kristian Wilson, of Earth and Sky, said the phenomenon provided a "unique and spectacular event" over the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve.

The aurora could be seen from the Lake Tekapo village, but the best views were found at Mt John University Observatory, where Earth and Sky astrophotographers David Weir and Maki Yanagimachi photographed "to their hearts content".

Aurora were normally scarce, but last night's display was "extremely rare" and the strongest seen over the last 12 months, Wilson said.

Stargazers delighted in seeing the vivid colours with their own eyes, including reds and pinks uncommonly seen in an aurora.

"The exhibition was best viewed just before moonrise last night and continued with a starlit backdrop including the Milky Way, as captured in the photograph," he said.


The Press