National-World

Australians could get a rare glimpse of the southern lights

Lights likely on south end of continent, Tasmania

(CNN) - Australians have the rare opportunity to see a display of the Aurora Australis, or the southern lights, for one more night.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology issued an aurora watch May 14. It said that Thursday could be the last night for optimal viewing.

The mysterious light shows occur in the high north and high south latitudes when massive solar flares blast particles into space and solar winds bring them toward Earth. The particles then collide with atoms in Earth's atmosphere, creating what is described as rays, arcs of light that pulsate and dance in colors of red, green, or sometimes purple.

The bureau's website indicates sightings in Australia are rare, and the lights are more likely to be spotted on the south end of the continent, such as in Tasmania.

"To see the aurora, you'll need a very dark and clear night, so early morning, after the moon sets, between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., is best. ... Headlands or a dark beach are usually the best viewing spots," Bureau of Meteorology Space Weather expert Zahra Bouya told CNN affiliate 9 News.

Bureau meteorologist Philip Landvogt said the best viewing conditions in South Victoria will occur Thursday night, when the weather is supposed to be a little clearer.


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