The Hobart magnetometer was going off the charts!! The geomagnetic wind speed and density was picking up. The buzz online was near deafening. And it was all around the anticipation that the Aurora Australis was about to descend on the southern coastline of Australia (and not just the lucky few in Tasmania). With a clear night overhead, I was torn between going to bed and checking it out. Being a newbie, it was a tough call since I don’t really know how to read or interpret any of the charts online. After a few minutes of hesitation, I jumped out of my PJ’s and into my street clothes with extra layers for the cold wintry conditions and gunned down the highway towards the coastline of Victoria.

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Sorrento back beach looking eastwards towards Rye
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The Milky Way overhead

After driving for about an hour I arrived at the Sorrento back beach and in the darkness, away from any light pollution, the night sky was filled with stars. As it is June, you could also make out the milky way overhead which is always an awesome sight. Hurriedly, I jumped out of the car and set up my tripod and camera to face the southern horizon. I was slightly pessimistic as there was not much in the horizon I could make out with the naked eye that looked anything like the aurora. I have read that sometimes when it is weak, that is the case and only the camera with long exposure would be able to pick out the slightest tinge of colour. So, I waited for the shot. After what seems like a long time, the finished shot popped up on the back display of the camera and I excitedly searched it for any signs of the aurora . . . . . . To my disappointment, I could not find any at all.


How could it be? Sure it has been an hour but the data from Hobart is still going strong. So I waited and waited in the pitch darkness. Taking shots along the way hoping that the next one will be different. All the while the cold wind blew accompanied by the sound of the waves crashing against the rock formations to the right of the coastline. In the end, I gave in to the cold, figuring that it was not going to happen or maybe I had already missed it. It was hard packing up and trudging back to the car without anything to show for it. To make up for it, I decided to shoot the magnificent Milky Way instead. Pity my compact camera will never do justice to this sight. Maybe one day I’ll get me one of those serious cameras for astrophotography. And maybe one day, I’ll catch the Aurora Australis as well.

 

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