Amazing auroral display stirs the soul

Photo: Ian Griffin
Photo: Ian Griffin
I write a lot about auroras. For more than a decade, I have chased, photographed and enjoyed them.

Last Saturday at 4.30am, my watch beeped. As a keen aurora chaser, I have programmed my favourite digital timepiece to wake me when auroras are ablaze. I slowly climbed out of bed and went to the bedroom window. At first, the sky seemed cloudy. But, there was a noticeable colour behind the clouds.

I dressed and drove to Hoopers Inlet, where, when I arrived, a massive aurora was backlighting the cloud deck, creating a beautiful yet frustratingly obscured scene as the sun rose. I got very excited. This aurora was unique.

I drove home. I studied websites and realised that a massive solar storm, possibly epic, had begun. Born from a sunspot 15 times Earth’s diameter, this storm had potential. But would it last until nightfall? And if it did, where would the sky be clear?

As the day progressed, I realised that a road trip was required to maximise my chances of seeing what might be the biggest auroral display in my lifetime.

Just after 2pm, I embarked on a 2.5-hour odyssey filled with anticipation and adventure to Lake Aviemore, where whispers of clear skies beckoned like cosmic sirens.

Arriving just before sunset, I deployed an array of cameras. As the sky slowly darkened, imagine my joy as the sky lit with pinks and greens. The show had begun!

On Mother’s Day, from dusk until dawn, the sky blazed with the best southern lights I have ever witnessed. In the south, beams pierced the sky. To the north, right to the horizon, the sky was full of auroral colour.

In its majesty, the aurora seemed to pay timely homage to the maternal embrace of Earth, its undulating waves of light a testament to the enduring bond between celestial bodies. Shades of emerald, sapphire, and ruby pirouetted across the sky, weaving a tapestry of otherworldly beauty that stirred my soul and made my heart beat faster.

In the embrace of nature’s nocturnal symphony, time seemed to stand still, and I found myself spellbound, a stunned witness to the cosmic dance unfolding above. What a night!