Watch: 'Mind blowing' southern lights shine over Australia
A man in Tasmania saw "nature at its best" recently when the southern lights put on "easily the best and most spectacular" show the Australian has ever seen.
"The whole sky is on fire," David Finlay says as he films the "mind-blowing" display.
"I’m the only person out here. Where is everybody? Where are the crowds? I can’t believe I’m the only person out here," he says in the video.
Finlay told Storyful that he’s been chasing auroras for 23 years. He’s even flown to Antarctica several times in search of a stunning display like the one over Tasmania. But he’d never seen anything like this.
READ MORE: How to see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Uranus at the same time
"During the intense part of the storm the colors were easily visible to the naked eye," he said. "At one point the southern sky looked like it was on fire, with beams and ripples of light, and dramatic rapid pulsing, and waves of aurora light."
Auroras, also known as northern lights and southern lights depending on where you are in the world, are caused by collisions between fast-moving particles (electrons) from space and the oxygen and nitrogen gas in our atmosphere, according to NASA.
The electrons originate in the magnetosphere, and when they rain into the atmosphere, they "impart energy to oxygen and nitrogen molecules, making them excited."
READ MORE: NASA's Webb Telescope captures rarely seen star on cusp of death
"When the molecules return to their normal state, they release photons, small bursts of energy in the form of light," NASA says. "The color of the aurora depends on which gas is being excited by the electrons and on how much energy is being exchanged."
Oxygen emits either a greenish-yellow light (the most familiar color of the aurora) or a red light, NASA says, while nitrogen generally gives off a blue light. The oxygen and nitrogen molecules also emit ultraviolet light, which can only be detected by special cameras on satellites.