Images available: rarely seen 'Southern Lights' over Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station

May 21, 2002

Striking images of the Aurora Australis, the atmospheric phenomenon known familiarly as the Southern Lights, are available from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Like its more familiar counterpart, the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, the phenomenon is caused by the solar wind passing through the upper atmosphere. But the Aurora Australis is much less frequently observed because so few people live in Antarctica during the austral winter.

Jonathan Berry, who is wintering at NSF's Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, took the photos this month against the backdrop of the months-long polar night. NSF operates the only scientific station at the South Pole and
conducts astrophysical research
there. NSF also is currently rebuilding
and modernizing the station in a
logistically difficult, multiyear operation.

The images of the Aurora and of the full moon were taken over one wing of the new station and the existing geodesic dome at the South Pole.

For more about what makes the South Pole a unique observatory, see:

The digital images are available as jpegs at a resolution of 300 dpi. They should be credited, if published, to Jonathan Berry / National Science Foundation

For more information, contact: Peter West, 703-292-8070,

National Science Foundation

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