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  • Dr Toner Stevenson

A solar flare seen from Maroubra = aurora observed from Canada

At the 5 June Sydney City Skywatchers meeting Monty Leventhal presented his May Solar observations and I was particularly interested in his observation of X-ray class of C1. flare on 28 May. This post is about a phenomenon we can view from our planet when the solar conditions are just right .

Aurora Borealis by Lex Huggett

The reason for my curiousity about Monty's Solar observations is that my nephew Caleb Wilks, and his friend Lex Huggett had sent me their amazing photographs taken on the evening of 28 May from Lake Minnewanka, a glacial lake in the Banff National Park in Canada. Monty reported a solar flare occurred on 28 May, and this was the likely cause of the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights seen and beautifully photographed by Caleb and Lex. Solar activity causes the suns particles to enter the earth's atmosphere via the solar wind caused by activity on the Sun such as a flare. When these solar particles collide with electrically charged particles at the magnetic poles, this phenomenon occurs.

You will see in the spectacular photographs taken by Lex the green colour of the lights. This colour was caused by the oxygen gas and it is the most common colour for aurora's. There are also tinges of purple and pink, which may have been caused by nitrogen in the atmosphere. The photographs were taken with a Nikon D5000 camera, exposure 10seconds, ISO 640, aperture f4.

Lex wrote:

'Words cannot describe and photos cannot show just how incredible last night was. They say it's better through the lens of a camera but the whole sky was dancing and it was something only your eyes could absorb. This is a once in a lifetime and it has got to be the most amazing thing I have ever seen. Thankful that this is where I live!'

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