Tassie aurora sets off shutter frenzy

Ethusiasts have captured stunning images of the Aurora Australis (Click through to gallery). Photo: Susan Styles.

While thousands of Sydney-siders flock to see the light projections of the Vivid festival, Tasmanians are soaking up the splendour of nature’s own version.

The Aurora Australis, a lesser-known cousin of the Aurora Borealis, is more often visible only from Antarctica.

But 2013 is a bumper year for nature’s light show, with a peak in sunspot activity that has sent colours spinning across the skies as far north as Tasmania, more frequently than seen for years.

The spike in solar activity has corresponded with a burst of interaction over social media, as avid shutterbugs vie to capture ever-more astonishing pictures.

“I captured my first aurora in January this year, and last night’s was my fifth time,” Leoni Williams, member of the Facebook group Aurora Australis Tasmania said.

The Aurora Australis. Photo: Jolene Lye (Inoriz photography)

“I had never seen an aurora before, and only became interested in the phenomenon late last year, but I became obsessed with them!”

“I’ve learned so much about what the camera can see as opposed to the naked eye, and low light photography in general,” she added.

Fellow aurora-chaser Jolene Lye says the education process hasn’t ended there. Aurora photographers follow readings from sites such as the Aurora Alert page, from the Bureau of Meteorology.

The Aurora Australis. Photo: Laurie Davison

“I've learned a lot about how to read the charts and readings from NASA and NOAA which previously looked like Greek to me,” Lye said.

“But having said that, the Aurora can behave quite independently of these readings. Some weak readings have resulted in strong Auroras and vice versa so it's not all predictable!”

Intrigued? Williams says new members are always welcome in the online aurora community.

“There’s a wonderful camaraderie within the group and I love the willingness of the more seasoned members to share their knowledge with the newer members as they join.”

The Aurora Australis. Photo: Leoni Williams