Amazing Photos of the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) Over Aquila Private Game Reserve

In the early hours of the morning, Aquila was illuminated by the otherworldly glow of the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis), setting the sky ablaze with a mesmerising display of light and colour over the reserve. This extraordinary display was ignited by a historic G5 solar storm, which collided with Earth’s magnetic field on the night of Friday, May 10, 2024, and continued into Saturday, May 11, 2024. The Aurora Australis, a stunning and rare celestial phenomenon, captivated Cape Town, South Africa, and skywatchers around the world.

Such geomagnetic storms are a rarity in the Southern Hemisphere, but on this occasion, it enchanted South Africans and international travellers fortunate enough to witness the event. Many of our safari guests were treated to the scene of striking red and orange rays illuminating the Karoo mountains as the Aurora Australis danced across the heavens, casting a spell over Aquila’s Big Five Private Game Reserve, akin to the iconic opening scene of Disney’s ‘The Lion King.’

The Southern Lights (Aurora Australis)

The Southern Lights, also known as the Aurora Australis in the Southern Hemisphere, treated Southern Africa to a spectacular show on Friday night and Saturday morning when a G5 solar storm collided with Earth’s magnetic field, unleashing the magic of auroras—energetic particles from the Sun interacting with gases in the upper atmosphere.

According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), who issued a solar storm warning for the category G5 event, this is the strongest geomagnetic storm to hit earth in approximately twenty years.

Jon Ward, acting Executive Director at SANSA Space Science in Hermanus noted that this is the largest geomagnetic storm that has been observed in a very long time. “Although the likelihood of such a storm occurring is quite low, the severity of the impacts on technological systems can be very high. The energy and transport sectors are particularly vulnerable at the moment. “Space weather is a global phenomenon, the impacts are regional and vary greatly, depending on the time of arrival of the storm and whether the region is experiencing day or night. 

Aquila Private Game Reserve and Spa – Western Cape, South Africa

In the week leading up to the storm, the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) Space Weather Centre issued several G4 warnings and, for the first time since 2003, one G5 warning was issued. And, if you’re wondering why everyone is abuzz with the news, the Geomagnetic Storm Scale indicates the severity of geomagnetic storms. It is denoted by a G followed by a number from 1 to 5, with 1 being a minor event, and 5 being an extreme event; making this G5 Geomagnetic storm a once-in-a-generation occurrence that is sure to go down as one of 2024’s top memories.

But how and what causes the Aurora Australis to appear across our skies? Well, a geomagnetic storm occurs when charged particles from the Sun, caused by a coronal mass ejection (CME), interact with the Earth’s magnetic field. Besides the mesmerising display of light and colour, the impact of these storms is usually isolated to our technological systems, however, most people overlook any delays in signal or interferences with wifi connections as they are best known for creating the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) and Southern Lights (Aurora Australis).

There were several reports of the Aurora Australis (also known as the Southern Lights) being visible over the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, among other parts of South Africa. Many Southern light sightings were reported, with incredible photos and videos of the Aurora Australis above Table Mountain, Gansbaai, Simons Town, and even at the very tip of Africa in Cape Agulhas, just to name a few.

South Africans all over the country shared photographs of the Southern Lights as the Aurora Australis danced across the sky, all the way from Cape Town to Namibia

Cape Agulhas, Southernmost Tip of Africa – Kyle Goetsch Photography
Western Cape, South Africa – Hugh-Daniel Grobler Photography
Simons Town, Western Cape, South Africa – Steven Shannon Photography
Gansbaai, South Africa – Hugh-Daniel Grobler Photography

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