You need an aurora in the sky where you are. This is a newbies Aurora Australis guide. I am collating info I’ve found from various sources in my endeavour to find and photograph an Aurora. This will be revised as I learn new information.
Critical factors in your chances of seeing the Aurora are:
- Know your time zone and convert to UTM (or GMT). Most of the Solar info use UTM time as do most astronomers. An excellent tool is https://www.worldtimebuddy.com/
- Likelihood of solar storms. They can occur any time but there is an 11 year solar cycle – currently 2009 – 2020. In 2018 there were less than 22 events, while Jan 2014 and Nov 2011 had nearly 150 sunspots each. The blue line is the smoothed average. So 2025 may be looking good if planning a trip. The graph is from the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology website.
- How dark the sky is. Find a spot away from suburbs and street lights.
- How far south you are. There are Kp reports that show how current Kp required for your latitude. My location on the south coast of Victoria on 2nd of October 2018 shows I need a Kp of 8 which is a fairly extreme event. If I fly to Hobart in Tasmania and drive 1-2 hours south, I may see an Aurora if the Kp is 5.5. From http://www.aurora-service.net/
- If you are to far south, you are limited to winter winter as the sun wont set in summer. This affects the whole of Antarctica. Northern hemisphere areas affected are: Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.
- These images from https://www.swpc.noaa.gov/products/aurora-30-minute-forecast seem to show the locations of the aurora in each hemisphere. There is a great predictive animation. Go to the site and click the play button.
These computer animations are very similar to a space photo of aurora australis on the ABC’s News Science web site. I’m new to the science – does it mean that if you are under the green areas, the aurora will be directly above you. Am wondering if you could use the Ovation prime model to optimize your location. I’m noting that in the photo, much if the aurora is outside the arctic circle.
Other great resources:
http://onthreelegs.com/ and http://onthreelegs.com/2013/03/18/aurora-australis/