Elusive Aurora Australis…
What is the deal with these newer cars that have friggin military grade 50000 lumen searchlights for headlights? Are the drivers bloody blind? I’m all for lighting up the road but it’s really not necessary to light up the next suburb as well. One of them sat behind me as I recently journeyed down the M1 towards the southern coast of Victoria, hell bent on sending me into complete visual impairment, from Point Cook to Little River. That’s 20 odd kilometres of me changing lanes so the car wasn’t directly behind me, only to have it follow me into the same lane. The first time was annoying. The second time was a bit spooky. The third time had me resolve to go to the Geelong cop shop but the plonker turned off at Little River so we were both spared the disruption.
Lucky. I had a place to be.
I had decided, very last minute, to drive over 100kms towards Barwon Heads in a bid to possibly see the Southern Lights that were supposedly going to light up the night sky with a glittering array of colour. Note the words ‘possibly’ and ‘supposedly’. I really hadn’t done any planning for this jaunt but the Aurora KP index level (no, I don’t know what it means beyond 0 for ‘no lights’ and 9 for ‘awesome display, get outside now’) was high enough to warrant a 5 minute ‘should I or shouldn’t I?’ conversation with Him On The Couch at midnight (told you it was last minute).
‘Yes I should’, we decided so I coffee’d up while I packed gear, thermals and snacks into the car, and snuck off 20 minutes later.
A nearly full moon wasn’t going to do me any favours but what the hell, eh? It might happen that I see something or it might not. And nothing ventured = nothing gained. So I planted myself in the dunes at the back of Thirteenth Beach, looking towards the ocean/Torquay and set myself up to be cold and vigilant for the next couple of hours. I wasn't expecting much, particularly as the KP number had started decreasing, and I wasn't disappointed.
The weather and the moon did exactly as predicted. The temperature went down to 5°C, and the moon set just before 5am. But was there any sign of an aurora? Ummmm...no. Nothing. Not even the faintest hint of colour, even in the darkest parts of the sky. And certainly not on the camera sensor, as evidenced by the hundred or so photos that were just sky, stars and moon glow.
And so, having prevented death by hypothermia by jumping up and down a lot, eating muesli bars and wearing everything I own, I cranked up the car's heating and went home.
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