Dunedin north east border 5.Nov.2015

Reading the clouds while on the chase for auroras

Chasing auroras sometimes takes some effort.

One of the most important thing is finding a dark clear sky.
Without being dark or clear, there aren’t much chance to see auroras.
So reading the clouds and predicting its movement is quite important.

On 5th of Nov 2015, the spaceweather was predicted with some auroras that night. I started driving early evening searching for some clearance in the sky. Weather forecasts predicted thick clouds in most areas around Otago. But there was one spot with high chance of clear sky, in a place 2 hours from home.

After driving for an hour the conditions got worse. It started to rain and lots of dark clouds. But the weather chart looked good.
After another 30 minutes, stars started to appear and eventually the sky became clear with no clouds at all.
But no auroras. Yet.

I started setting up my camera after finding a great spot.
Just as I was ready, some lights started to light up to my front.
It was like a huge fire burning at the horizon. The show was on.

More about that night:

Where I was standing was the north west boundary of Dunedin and it was incredibly dark.
The only light to the front was from the aurora and stars.
The aurora lasted for 5 hours this night.

But as it is imaginable, I am not always lucky. Even if the forecast is promising, there are always chance of the clouds covering the sky.
New Zealand weather is very changeable. Especially in the south island.

In the past, I had clouds covering the sky just as the auroras start to grow larger multiple times and I have waited for hours in the car as it rained as well.

But when you get to see the auroras, every time it is so significant it becomes all worth while.

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