Aurora is a natural light display seen at the highest and lowest latitudes of the planet. This remarkable light show occurs when electrically charged particles from the solar winds enter the earth’s atmosphere, reacting with the planet’s gasses at high speed and temperature. This reaction causes a burst of colors in the sky called an aurora. There are two types of auroral zones on earth, the south and the north poles.
Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights occur in the northern part of the earth while aurora australis or Southern Lights occurs on the southern area of the earth. Of the two, aurora australis is very seldom seen. If you want to witness this stunning phenomenon then pack your bags and head to any of these spots:
1. The Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands are a small group of islands located in the South Atlantic Ocean. This archipelago is about 400 miles from the South America coast and is home to about 2,000 people. The Falkland Islands are renowned for their untamed landscapes and thriving wildlife, including elephant seals and penguins. But the Falkland Islands are better known for being one of the best places to watch the Southern lights!
To watch the auroras in the Falkland Islands, visit between April and August. During these months, darkness is longer so there is a good chance of spotting spectacular light display in the sky. The good news is, there are plenty of hotels, inns and dining options in and around the Falkland Islands to accommodate tourists!
2. Tasmania, Australia
Although the Southern lights are only seen from places near the South Pole, there are several areas located in the North Pole where the aurora australis is visible. One such area includes Tasmania, Australia! Tasmania is an island state located just 240 kilometers from mainland Australia. Australia and Tasmania are only separated by the Bass Strait.
Tasmania offers a 1% to 2% chance of seeing the aurora australis on a clear night. It takes a lot of patience to spot the light show but if you are lucky, you just might spot the Southern lights while sightseeing at Tasmania. The region is a known tourist destination so there are plenty of things to do and attractions to check out while waiting for a clear sky!
3. Stewart Island, New Zealand
Stewart Island, which is the third-largest island in New Zealand, is one of the best places to watch the Southern Lights outside of Antarctica. Just like Tasmania, Stewart Island supplies radar data to a global network that tracks aurora activities on the planet.
Stewart Island is locally known as Rakiura, which is a Maori word that translates to “glowing skies.” For the Maori people, seeing the Southern Lights is a good omen. However, the Southern lights are very elusive even in areas near the South Pole so it will take a lot of luck and patience as well as great timing to spot aurora australis in Stewart Island, more so since the island gets plenty of rain throughout the year.
4. South Georgia Island
South Georgia is a British territory located in the South Atlantic Ocean. The region is very remote and features a collection of barren small islands. There is no native population in the South Georgia. Rather, the inhabitants are British Government officers, scientists, and support staffs from the British Antarctic Survey.
Though remote and inhospitable with only a couple of research bases as protection from the biting cold, the South Georgia is an excellent place to spot the Southern lights because the region is prone to magnetic storms. Getting to South Georgia is very challenging that’s why the British government only go there strictly for scientific reasons.
5. Ushuaia, Argentina
Ushuaia is closer to the Antarctic Circle than Tasmania, South Georgia, and Stewart Island so you are more likely to witness the Southern lights in the region. Because Ushuaia is a popular tourist spot, it is fairly easy to travel in the region, find accommodations, and go sightseeing. The best time to head to Ushuaia to watch aurora australis is during the winter season where the region gets about 17 hours of darkness every day for months.