Equinox aurora

Wide-angle view of the night sky at full moon, showing a thin aurora The southern lights glow above our HF radar array The aurora glows green with a hint of red below, above the summit of Lorentzenpiggen

I’m not a superstitious person, or overly religious, but the longer I live the more I begin to believe in serendipity. Today is auspicious for many reasons – it is Good Friday to Christians, falling this year on South Africa’s Human Rights Day, and it is particularly special to us in Antarctica as it is the autumn equinox – a milestone in our year on the ice.   This equinox coincides with a beautiful full moon, and we have been further blessed by open skies and no wind.  Imagine out joy, then when the final gift arrived – a lovely aurora.  This one formed several bands over the south-eastern horizon, and was remarkably active, with rapidly shifting green veils.  At times, a red hue was visible in the lower reaches.  The full moon certainly prevented us from seeing the full splendour of the aurora, but it highlighted the landscape – while the base basked in the cool light of the moon, we watched the glowing southern lights over our familiar southern peaks… serendipity indeed.

The author in front of SANAE IV in the moonlight SANAE IV in the moonlight, taken on the roof of the base Caterpillar Challengers doze in the moonlight

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