You do have to be pretty lucky to see an aurora, but if you do see one you won’t be disappointed. The brightest auroras are concentrated in rings called the aurora ovals around the north or south poles. The auroras in the northern hemisphere are called aurora borealis; southern lights are called aurora australis. Australis comes from the Latin word for southern. They’re best viewed from Antarctica, Tasmania and the southern mainland coastlines. The colours displayed by an aurora are generally visible to the naked eye if you’re near the poles—this is because the aurora is overhead and more intense—however at lower latitudes the auroras are on the horizon. Less colour is seen by the naked eye; the lights tend to be shades of gray; however, if there is a high intense solar storm there will be more colour. Auroras can occur at any time in the year, but they’re most likely to occur during the months of March and
September—that’s when the Earth’s magnetic field is best oriented to interact with the solar wind. Of course you ideally need a dark night with little cloud cover. You don’t want a bright moon or any light pollution, so a good location is a dark beach or a hill where you have an unobstructed view to the south. Bright auroras usually last for 1–3 hours and the best viewing time is around midnight—between 10 pm and
2 am. When we forecast solar wind conditions that look favorable for auroras occurring in the next 1–3 days the forecasters in the Bureau’s Space Weather Centre issue what’s called an Aurora Watch notice. When there’s a high chance that there will be an aurora visible *now* we issue an Aurora Alert. To be truthful nothing beats seeing an aurora with the naked eye.