How to View Aurora Australis in South Australia

Aurora Australis Adelaide South Australia

Tips for Seeing Aurora Australis (Southern Lights) in Adelaide and South Australia

If you’ve always dreamed of seeing Aurora Australis (Southern Lights), you may be fortunate enough to witness this beautiful coloured light spectacle from Adelaide. It is not  commonly seen in Adelaide, however, as recently as November and December 2023, it has been viewable and we’ve put together a few tips below to help you achieve that bucket list goal!

Aurora Australis is an amazing sky/weather phenomenon that occurs in response to solar geomagnetic storms, the release of energy and wind from the sun. The solar storm cycle waxes and wanes over 11 years and currently (as at December 2023), we are in a peak cycle with the sun experiencing stronger and more frequent solar storms. This peak cycle is the key factor behind the ability to view Aurora Australis as far north as South Australia. It is more frequently seen in more southern areas like Tasmania which is closer to the South Magnetic Pole.

We’ve put together some tips simple below on how to maximise your chances of seeing Aurora Australis in South Australia. The weather is out of human control which means there are no guarantees, however, with a bit of close monitoring and fingers crossed for more solar storm activity in the coming months, hopefully you’ll be able to witness it for yourself. 

We followed a mix of websites (below) and Facebook groups (search for them on Facebook) which were absolutely essential for keeping us informed. 

Top Tips for how to See Aurora Australis in South Australia 

  1. Keep an eye on Aurora websites, join some Aurora Australis Facebook groups and download an Aurora App which provides information about potential high viewing days. It’s a good idea to have a few sources of up to date information to be better informed.
  2. Keep a super close eye on your Facebook groups in particular as you’ll find that the group moderators are experienced with interpreting Aurora data and they want everyone to witness an Aurora, so they will be posting updated information regularly if there’s a high chance of an Aurora sighting. Please also remember that the group moderators have given their time freely to help others experience Aurora. Always be respectful and kind in the group. ALWAYS!
  3. Don’t rely on one source of information. Keep your tabs open and your eyes open for possible opportunities.
  4. If you can, head as far south as possible in South Australia to maximise your chances of seeing Aurora Australis.
  5. Finding a location. If you can’t drive far, then scope out an area during the day before an anticipated solar storm. Go for a drive or walk around your local area and keep a lookout for elevated spots that look south with views that are not obscured by trees or buildings etc.
    Also, ideally as far away from city light pollution as possible.
  6. On a night where there is solar storm activity, be ready to walk or drive to your viewing spot. It is better to be prepared with a plan rather than driving around hoping to find a good spot (trust us on this!).
  7. If there is a solar storm predicted and you drive to your designated “viewing spot”, be aware that you may not be able to view it with the naked eye. Get your phone camera out and start snapping. We captured the photo on this page with an iphone on a 10 second long exposure setting. Just remember to keep super still while you’re taking your photos.
  8. When driving to your “viewing spot”, please drive safely and keep others safe on the road too.

Things to be aware of when chasing Aurora Australis

  • There are no guarantees of seeing Aurora Australis even when it is predicted. There are quite a lot of factors that need to align to create the right conditions. 
  • Clouds may obscure Aurora Australis (as they partially did on 1 December) 2023 in some locations.
  • There is a lot of science behind predicting aurora’s but it may not be perfect. A prediction may be off the mark and you may be disappointed. Always go with an attitude of “hope for the best but don’t expect to see it”. 
  • It may not be viewable to the naked eye. Get your phone out which is more likely to pick up the colours.

HELPFUL WEBSITES:

To understand more about Aurora’s and be informed about solar storms, follow the BOM’s Aurora page. It has a fabulous video explaining the science behind Aurora’s (just incredible) and provides Aurora alerts: https://www.sws.bom.gov.au/Aurora 

Space Weather Prediction Centre: swpc.noaa.gov

SpaceWeatherLive: spaceweatherlive.com

Glendale App – Aurora Alerts UK: https://aurora-alerts.uk/

Global Aurora Sighting Map – Hunter Geophysics: https://www.huntergeophysics.com/aurora-viewing-map/

Get on to Facebook and search for Aurora Australis. If you join one of these groups, please always be kind and respectful towards everyone in the group. We’ve also found the groups below very helpful:

Facebook Global Aurora Alerts Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/GlobalAuroraAlertsGroup/

Facebook PacMan Space Weather https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100086344428414

Apps:

My Aurora Forecast & Alerts 

SpaceWeatherLive

We really hope you get to experience Aurora Australis too!

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At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.

Image Source: Mel Louey

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