The Aurora Australis as seen from the Australian and New Zealand mainlands / Candice Marshall

| March 19, 2015

The swirls, twists, and curtains of light of the aurora australis were visible from the Australian and New Zealand mainland overnight.

The natural light display caused a flurry of excitement, captured on social media.

As explained by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the phenomenon is caused when electrically charged electrons and protons accelerate down the Earth’s magnetic field lines and collide with neutral atoms in the upper atmosphere — usually about 100 kilometres above the Earth.

“These collisions cause the neutral atoms to fluoresce, emitting light at many different wavelengths. The most common aurora colours are red and green, caused by the fluorescence of oxygen atoms, while nitrogen atoms can throw bluish-purple lights into the mix,” it said.



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