Monday, 30 January 2012

Antarctic Voyage 2012 - 30/01/2012 [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

Another week onboard the Aurora Australis has come and gone, and
quite fittingly, it ended with a viewing of the proper aurora
australis, the southern lights!

After a brief glimpse on VMS last year, I was hoping upon hope that
this voyage would bring better weather for an aurora viewing. It took
a while, but after three weeks or so, we were far enough north to
have darkness, far enough south to still be in the domain of the
southern lights, all coupled with a rare clear night in the Southern

Now the Aurora is a pretty temperamental thing, so after hearing
rumours of a display prior to my shift starting, I was dubious that I
would be lucky enough to see anything, and initially I was correct. I
shouldn't really say that I saw nothing as the stars were stunning.
Shooting stars were flying all over the place, the Milky Way spanned
from horizon to horizon, and Mars (I think...) was shining a
brilliant red light down on me. You all know I'm a bit of an
astro-geek these days, so I definitely wasn't disappointed.

After a quick flurry of snow, and a snap decision to ride it out, the
cloud cleared and the stars offered their beauty once more, this time
in conjunction with an auroral display. It was beautiful. A pale
green veil of light seemed to descend from mid-way through the sky,
shimmering gently, and slowly pulsing as the aurora strengthened and
weakened every so often. It was such a strange phenomenon, appearing
somewhat like dawn in the middle of the night sky. Spanning for what
seemed like forever, I just stood atop the ship and watched in awe as
the aurora passed over me and slowly dissipated, leaving behind not
darkness, but the stunning beauty of the stars.

With Antarctica now far behind us, and the ice becoming increasingly
sporadic (no iceberg viewing's for 24 hours), it seemed as if we had
left the polar domain, but the auroral viewing gave all onboard one
last taste of Antarctic life.


Australian Antarctic Division - Commonwealth of Australia
IMPORTANT: This transmission is intended for the addressee only. If you are not the
intended recipient, you are notified that use or dissemination of this communication is
strictly prohibited by Commonwealth law. If you have received this transmission in error,
please notify the sender immediately by e-mail or by telephoning +61 3 6232 3209 and
DELETE the message.
Visit our web site at

No comments:

Post a Comment