Southern Lights

Southern Lights


The Aurora Borealis has a sister phenomenon in the southern hemisphere called the Aurora Australis.


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Seeing the northern lights in all their vivid glory nears the top of many travelers' bucket lists. But what many people don't realize is that the Southern Hemisphere has an incredible atmospheric light show of its own that's just as captivating. Called the southern lights, or aurora australis, it's the southern cousin to the aurora borealis and can best be seen from the most southern of landmasses, such as Tasmania, New Zealand and Antarctica.

Just like the northern lights, the southern lights occur when electrically charged solar particles and atoms in the Earth's atmosphere collide with gases like oxygen and nitrogen, causing those gases to emit light. Auroras happen in ovals around the planet's two magnetic poles, which is why the farther north or south you're located, the likelier you are to experience one of these impressive light displays.

While it's difficult to predict the exact moment when a southern light show will begin, the website Aurora Service offers an hourly forecast based on real-time solar wind data procured from the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) a NASA spacecraft in orbit. Most southern light shows occur during the Southern Hemisphere's fall and winter months, which stretch from March through September.


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