3 Aug 2010

Skies scanned for Southern Lights

10:53 pm on 3 August 2010

Sky watchers in the southern South Island have so far seen no sign of an Aurora Australis.

It was hoped the Southern Lights would be on display as a result of two explosions on the sun that have sent solar particles streaming towards the earth.

One enthusiast, Invercargill GP Stephen Voss, says he hopes for a showing in the early hours of Wednesday morning, but says the chances will be better on Wednesday night when a second and stronger stream of particles reaches the earth.

Dr Voss is one of many people who will get an unusual wake-up call to help observe the phenomenon.

He says a high level of solar particles, which make an aurora more likely, trigger automatic e-mails to thousand of subscribers, and these e-mails in turn cause their telephone to ring.

Dr Voss says the last real aurora was in 2001 and filled the southern sky.