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Northland newlyweds use aurora as backdrop in dazzling wedding photos

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A newlywed couple’s big day was made more unforgettable by the dazzling aurora display seen in the night sky above New Zealand last night. The aurora was enhanced due to a solar storm.

Photographer Greg Campbell said newlyweds Eve and Kelsin were “ecstatic” to have been photographed under the aurora on their special day in Whangārei.

Greg Campbell was delighted to capture a new bride and groom in front of the aurora last night. Photo / Greg Campbell.
Greg Campbell was delighted to capture a new bride and groom in front of the aurora last night. Photo / Greg Campbell.

Campbell said he has been taking photos for 12 years but has never shot in front of or seen an aurora.

”It’s a dream come true.

”The bride and groom were ecstatic. They had a perfect day already and this was way beyond their expectations.”

The phenomena delighted stargazers last night, and clear skies make for ideal viewing conditions.

According to Niwa, there were clear skies in most areas, which was favourable for witnessing southern lights during the solar storm.

Strong geomagnetic activity combined with cloudless skies made for perfect viewing of the cosmic event last night, which is difficult to see with the naked eye but is enhanced when viewed through cameras.

Jeff Ng took this stunning photo of the aurora australis at Wellington's Owhiro Bay at 6.45pm on Saturday. Photo / Jeff Ng
Jeff Ng took this stunning photo of the aurora australis at Wellington’s Owhiro Bay at 6.45pm on Saturday. Photo / Jeff Ng

The aurora australis dazzles in the sky above Mt Cook on Saturday night.  Photo / Aimee Steedman
The aurora australis dazzles in the sky above Mt Cook on Saturday night. Photo / Aimee Steedman

The aurora australis above the Cardrona River near Wānaka on Saturday night. Photo / George Heard
The aurora australis above the Cardrona River near Wānaka on Saturday night. Photo / George Heard

The aurora captured in Queensberry, Otago. Photo / Eliot Drake
The aurora captured in Queensberry, Otago. Photo / Eliot Drake

Auroras result from magnetosphere disruptions by solar wind, altering charged particle trajectories.

These particles then rise into the upper atmosphere, creating colourful displays.

MetService meteorologist Clare O’Connor said hopeful watchers may be able to view the aurora again tonight, with little to no cloud cover expected for much of the North and South Islands.

O’Connor said the event was an uncommon sight for New Zealanders, but more so for those in the far north.

The aurora australis as seen above Lake Taupō on Saturday night. Photo / Kevin Webb
The aurora australis as seen above Lake Taupō on Saturday night. Photo / Kevin Webb

“In New Zealand, we’re not that far south and the closer you are to the poles the easier they are to spot. We do see the stronger ones, but to see them from Northland, that’s very uncommon.”

She said MetService had received dozens of stunning images of the aurora, which were enhanced by the lack of cloud cover for most of the country.

Photographer finally captures aurora

Pōhara photographer Shelley Grell said she has been trying to capture the aurora for some time, first coming close a year ago but finally capturing it around 6.30am on Saturday.

“It needs to be a really strong geomagnetic storm for it to be visible up here,” she said.

“When I first tried capturing the aurora this time last year, I missed the peak of it and only got a little splash of pink. Then there were no curtains, no strobes that you could see further south, and I couldn’t see it to the naked eye.”

Grell said with her first attempt she could only see the aurora in monochrome and had to enhance the images on her computer.

The Aurora Australis above Pohara, Golden Bay around 6.30am on May 11. Photo / Shelley Grell
The Aurora Australis above Pohara, Golden Bay around 6.30am on May 11. Photo / Shelley Grell

“I’ve seen lots of photos of it, I’ve seen the Northern Lights videos too, but I’ve never been there. But this morning’s aurora was completely different. I could see everything in full colour. It was very exciting. And to actually see it with the naked eye, that was just incredible.”

Rinshu Jaiswal Nerkar captured the aurora from her Auckland home, saying she was aware of the forecast aurora but did not expect to see it from the middle of the city.

“When my eyes adjusted to the dark I saw a pink glow in the southern sky and immediately knew that it was an aurora. I grabbed my phone and started taking shots. It was a sight I will never forget. I am an aurora chaser for life now,” she said.



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