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When Is The Best Time To See The Southern Lights? - Aurora Australis

Updated on January 25, 2012

If you are wondering when the best time to see the Southern Lights is then you have come to the right place. On this page we will tell you when you are most likely to see the Southern Lights also known as the Aurora Australis. We will give you a few tips on time of year, time of month and even which year is best to view the Aurora. So for everything you need to know about the Southern Lights you need look no further.

The Southern Lights are like the ugly sister of the Northern Lights. They get far less press coverage and are far harder to catch a glimpse of. The fact is though that the Aurora Australis is just as impressive as it’s Northern counterpart. So if you fancy seeing the Aurora in full flow, how exactly do you go about it and more importantly when?

The Southern Lights

When To See The Southern Lights

Both the Auroras dance on a regular basis over the magnetic poles. In order to see them you want to head as far north or in this case, south as possible. As you can imagine, you stand a far better chance of seeing the lights in the darkness. Hence your best time to view them is in the winter months when the hours of sunlight are far fewer. In the Southern Hemisphere that means planning your trip between April and September. The best months are usually July and August although that is not always the case.

The fact is that viewing the Aurora Australis is always going to be something of a lottery. Some weeks they will come out to play every night without fail, whereas other weeks they might go weeks on end with nothing more than a faint glow. There are ways you can improve your chances of viewing though. One of these involves the moon. You want as dark a night as possible so find out when the moon is going to be out and when not. You don’t want to be looking up when you have a bright full moon out, so plan accordingly.

Another thing to take into consideration is the weather. If you get the best Aurora even seen, but have dense cloud, then it will all be for nothing. So try to view local weather forecasts to find clear nights for viewing. Some locations for the Aurora are also notoriously bad for weather, so before planning a trip to view the Southern Lights, do your homework.

The Best Years For The Aurora Australis

You may be surprised to learn that the Aurora actually runs on it’s own cycle. This tends to be around 13 years. So some years there is very little activity and the displays are quite poor, whereas other years there is a high level of activity and some of the displays are simply staggering. An example of a poor year was 2011 this had very little activity and very few nights where there was a decent showing. This is good news however as 2012 and 2013 look to be when the Aurora is going to be at it’s best. The activity level predicted for these years is high and there is a good chances of some wonderful displays.

As you can see, there are things you can do to greatly increase your chances of viewing the Southern Lights. The month you visit and even the year can have a great impact on your odds of seeing something. If you do your research and plan well, then you can really have some wonderful experiences. Seeing the Southern Lights is something that not many people can do, simply because it is hard to get far enough South to see anything. In the North there is plenty of land heading high into the Arctic Circle, but of course it is all very different in the South. If you do plan well though you could well catch a glimpse of one of the most elusive spectacles on planet earth.


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I'm down here in Punta Arenas, Chile. 7/7/12, what times of the night are best, or do I need to just pull an all-nighter?

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      My husband and I were lucky enough to see the southern lights in 2011 from Hobart it was one of the most moving experiences. Thanks for a very informative website.

    • IndiePharm profile image


      7 years ago from Niš, Serbia

      I've never seen both Northern and Southern Lights, but I'd like to, I've heard that they're outstanding. Quite useful Hub!

    • Jameshank profile image


      7 years ago from Japan, NY, California

      Thanks for the tip on when to catch an aurora australis!


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