The dancing delights of Aurora

Andrew Kreibich was able to capture parts of the milky way as well as the Southern lights. Pictures: ANDREW KREIBICH

By Gabriella Vukman

At this moment are we united with our ancestors? In this moment did the past, present and future merge to reveal and disseminate the same image for all of our generations to decode?

Hues of red, green and blue dazzled the Dandenong Ranges and Valley from Saturday 11 May until Sunday 12 May, as the southern lights provided a spectacle for lucky onlookers.

Triggered by a gargantuan solar storm, the Aurora Australis was seen across the southern hemisphere and the Yarra Ranges and Valley featured among Cape Schanck, Tasmania, and New Zealand as a viewing location.

Ferntree Gully resident Tyler Hamilton said, “We’d been following it for a little bit. I had seen from a couple of posts online that it might have been happening and so earlier on Saturday night I went out at about 7.30 and tried to have a little look but couldn’t see anything.”

“I got really disappointed because I thought I missed it,” Tyler said.

My partner told me that it would be going the whole night so on a whim we jumped into the car, drove down to the lookout point at the Quarry.”

Tyler was there for a while, viewing the spectacle through his camera along with another photographer.

Tyler said, “I was halfway through taking a photo and my fiancé was like ‘quick put down your phone. It’s actually happening!’”

“You could actually see it and it was quite incredible! There were some really nice deep reds and pinks dancing across the sky and you just saw it move from right to left and it was just so cool,” Tyler said.

“It was just so crazy how quick it all happened. One moment I thought I’d missed it completely and then the next thing we were at this beautiful vantage point and couldn’t believe what we were seeing.”

Remarking on some of the incredible shots taken down at the beach, Tyler notes that everyone’s individual experience of the lights is unique.

Tyler said, “We saw some great shots from people from the beach but at the end of the day I think every vantage point was so different. Ours was really beautiful. We got to see out across the whole city so even though I think we missed out on a couple of colours, what we got to see was pretty unmatched to anywhere else.”

“And we are really happy to have seen it when we did. It didn’t seem to have put on as good of a show on Sunday so we are very grateful we got to see it when we did,” Tyler said.

“We are fairly new to this area too so it was quite nice to have that special moment along with other members of the community who were there too.”

Social media platforms have been inundated with glamorous shots of Saturday and Sunday’s brilliant skies.

Selby resident Ben said, “I was at John’s Hill lookout just up the mountain. It is south-facing so you get a good view with some trees in the foreground. It was a nice spot.”

“I sort of knew it was happening but my dad was the one that said it was on so we thought ‘we’d better go and see it because it’s, not once in a lifetime but very rare.”

Ben said, “I definitely did not expect to see this much colour. Taking into account that there were lights around the spot we were looking from and that it was a bit cloudy and we are so far north, you’d think that all of these factors would mean that it wouldn’t be that colourful but it turned out amazing.”

Ben first went out and took a photo at roughly 8:30 but it was cloudy and not quite dark enough.

“I went back later with my brother at midnight and that’s when it was the best and we got the really good photos,” Ben said.

“At the earlier time it was a very faint tinge of green, along lower, down where the clouds were and you could sort of make out the red but it wasn’t very much- it was just once you took a long exposure photo with your camera that you could see the colours.”

“But when we went back it was much more spectacular. Still not as amazing as you see in all the photos and everything, but you could see the green, fluoro colour, the red and all the vertical lines of it.”

“You couldn’t see it moving but it almost felt like it was rippling,” Ben said.

The spectacle of the southern lights brought communities and people together.

Ben said, “Usually when we go to that spot to look at the stars and other phenomena, there’s one or two other people but when we got there the car park was full.”

“Even across the world, everyone was posting pictures of it and it’s a great way to see people enjoying the natural wonders of the world.”

“It’s such a cool thing to see,” Ben said.

Ferntree Gully mother Taylar-Ann’s last minute trip to Coles turned into a star-spangled night surveying the lights with her family down at Flinders.

Taylar-Ann said, “I was actually planning to just go to the shops before they closed and I was just outside at around nine and I looked up, and saw a really dull red.”

“I originally thought it was light pollution, my hubby confirmed ‘there’s definitely red happening. Something is happening.’”

After a quick trip down to the Ferntree Gully arboretum for a few snaps on her iPhone, Taylar-Ann packed her husband and children into her car along with a few blankets and headed off to Flinders to observe the spectacle.

“It was a pretty surreal experience to see something with the naked eye and then the colours just pop in even more when you use a camera so I was so excited, especially for me being a huge fan of astrophotography,” Taylar-Ann said.

“I’ve always known that you can go and see the aurora at the lighthouse down at Cape Schanck but to see it in Ferntree Gully is absolutely amazing.

Taylar-Ann said, “It was so special to see the lights in my home suburb and it’s definitely a memory to cherish. I am going to hang the photo up in my house.”