The Elusive Aurora Australis

I’ve always been a bit of a science nut. Astronomy in particular. Growing up in Melbourne Australia I knew I wasn’t close enough to the south pole to ever see the Aurora Australis. For it to be visible at our latitude was a rarity not worth chasing. And even if it were visible, the city lights to would drown out the view. I never had hope of seeing it.

Once when I was about 10 there was a news report of a strong aurora visible from dark skies around Melbourne. That evening after dinner (and after sunset) Dad took me a few K’s north, away from the local lights to see what we could see. Nothing.

I’ve never tried since. Even when I’d hear reports of high auroral activity, I wouldn’t bother.

This March several things clicked together. I saw a video posted somewhere of Aurora Australia footage taken from NSW (even closer to the equator than Melbourne, for those unfamiliar with Aussie geography!). I realised I had a camera and gear that could take the photos I wanted. I knew how to use the settings to take the photos I wanted. I could take a short drive to be even further away from the local light pollution and actually see an Aurora when solar activity allowed.

A couple of weeks ago we had such heightened solar activity. Aurora strength is measured on a Kp scale from 0 (weak) to 9 (strong). We were getting Kp’s of around 7-ish. So out I drive with my gear and set up beside the highway on a hill with good views to the south.

It’s still cloudy but I’m hoping there will be a break with a green/red glow exposed beyond. To kill time I begin taking snaps with varying exposure settings to get a feel of what might be ideal when the clouds finally part. If ever.

Still no break and I’m getting bored with the same old clouds. I point towards the road and try for some light trails of the cars going by. While reviewing some of those shots, I realised there was an eery, dim orange glow on the left hand edge of one of the shots. It was a one of the longer exposures for the light trails and the dark sky came out very bright. I couldn’t see the glow with the naked eye. I panned back to the south and took several more shots of the area.


The orange glow that probably wasn’t the Aurora Australis shining through the clouds east of Melbourne on 23 June.

Could it have been the aurora? There was only one large orange glowing area towards the south but I wasn’t convinced. It was the colour of arc-sodium street lamps but the sky was already glowing with the lights from distant towns. There would have been a number of those sodium lights around the place, especially at intersections, and I might have expected many patches of reflected orange. Or none.

It wasn’t the colour I expected. Because we wouldn’t be under the aurora we would see it from a distance and therefore more likely to see the upper red and purple sections more than the green. Orange — no match.

I would be surprised that the aurora would shine through those reasonably thick clouds, too.

I don’t know. I probably need to go out with an experienced Southern Aurora watcher from my own latitude and have them point out to me “there it is!”. Then I would know.

What is a Grammar Nerd?

G’day all!

It’s been a long time between posts and I might be a little late to this party, but I’ve been given a tip-off regarding a study done by Grammarly of their fans to find out what constitutes a Grammar Nerd.

The following info-graphic describes what they found and makes interesting reading. I had hoped there were more grammar nerds in Australia but, alas, no.

Anatomy of a Grammar Nerd Infographic

Check out Grammarly, for grammar related stuff, including their automated proofreader, for which I may have given them a free ad.

Anyway, what do you think is a grammar nerd? Do you commonly come across characteristics of the grammar nerd not mentioned here?

Clementine Ford is Correct, But…

It’s even simpler than that.

But that could be because my mind is simpler than hers!

This all started with nude pictures of women being stolen from secure online accounts and put up on public Revenge Porn websites for all to see. Some of the photos were actually submitted by vengeful ex’s without the consent of the women pictured. Australian morning TV program Sunrise victim-blamed the women by suggesting it’s their own fault for posting nude pictures online. Somehow they were asking for trouble. “When will they learn?” they asked. Continue reading

My Repair Frenzy

I’ve always told myself I’m no good with physical work. I seem better at and enjoy working more with “soft” things, theoretical things. I write software for a living and fiction as a hobby, play with digital photography and graphics a lot, and just discovered Blender for 3D modelling. All of this involves using a computer. Give me something real and physical to do and that’s when I also become very proficient at procrastinating because it usually ends in failure. Continue reading

A New Tax System: Summary

If you’re still with me you might be familiar with my last few posts describing my idea of a simplified tax system. Basically, we tax transactions of money in exchange for goods and services, between two tax paying entities . The tax consists of two components: Continue reading

A New tax System: Problems and Pitfalls

Despite all the brilliant-ness of this tax system, it has some shortcomings. Here I will try to cover all the problems I can think of before anyone else points them out!

The Rich are not singled out

One is that there is still argument that the rate at which the rich pay tax should be higher than for lower income people. This system does not address that except by allowing for a higher D-Factor on transactions favoured by the rich. Continue reading

A New Tax System: Possible Scenarios

Previously I discussed the selection of appropriate D-Factor values. In this post I will go over in more detail some of the unusual types of payments we make and explain how this tax system applies to those payments. I won’t talk about the standard payment for goods and services as they are straight-forward enough. Continue reading