The Southern Lights or Aurora Australis is a spellbinding natural light show that produces shimmering sheets of colourful light that appear to dance across the sky. New Zealand is home to the world’s largest Dark Sky Reserve, offering premium conditions for star gazing.
StampNews.com is glad to introduce to our readers’ attention the stunning stamp issue by New Zealand Post that feature six gummed stamps – each featuring a photograph of the Southern Lights at the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. Each stamp shows a different view of the Southern lights, with the various colours and patterns of shimmering light clearly evident in these stunning photographs.
Auroras are the result of electrically charged particles from solar winds reacting with gases in the earth's atmosphere. The excess energy from these reactions creates a stunning light show that can be seen at the North or South poles. In order to view the Southern Lights you would need to be as far South as possible, which is part of the reason that New Zealand is such a prime location for viewing these colourful displays.
The Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve is located in the Mackenzie Basin of the South Island. The extreme lack of natural light and the multitude of clear nights make it the perfect combination for stargazing, or if the timing is right, for viewing the Southern Lights. The Mt John observatory is the University of Canterbury's premier astronomical observatory and is a much favoured spot for catching a glimpse of the Southern Lights.
The Southern Lights can range in colour from pink to green to purple, with the colours dependent on a number of factors. The type of solar wind particle, the type of gas molecule and the electrical state at the time of the collision all have an effect on the eventual colour of the aurora.