Passengers in awe of Aurora Australis on first charter flight to see southern lights

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Weve travelled two-thirds of the way to the south pole, seen an incredible display and were home for breakfast, says organiser

The first commercial flight to view the Aurora Australis landed in New Zealand early on Friday, with 130 star-struck passengers sharing the experience on social media.

The eight-hour charter flight took off from the South Island on Thursday and flew to a latitude of 62 degrees south, where organisers said passengers were guaranteed a view of the aurora.

Flight passenger captures the Aurora Australis.

Our lives are forever altered by this incredible experience and we are eternally grateful to have been a part of this remarkable event, said passenger Roz Charlton on Facebook, as others shared their pictures under the hashtag #flighttothelights.

Weve travelled two-thirds of the way to the south pole, seen an incredible display of the southern lights, got lovely pictures and were home in time for breakfast, the organiser, Dr Ian Griffin, told New Zealands TVNZ.

Ian Griffin (@iangriffin)

Ever wondered what an aurora australis looks like from 60 South from a Boeing 767? Wonder no more #flighttothelights pic.twitter.com/d6BamHWgdi

March 23, 2017

The flight tickets were priced at NZ$4,000 for economy and $8,000 for business class aboard the Boeing 767, which returned to Dunedin.

Rafael, a Spanish tourist from Mallorca, said he saw the flight advertised online and decided he needed to go on this adventure.

Given the flights popularity, organisers say they are planning a second one next year.

Aurora Australis and its northern counterpart Aurora Borealis occur when the Earths magnetic field interacts with electrically charged particles emitted by the sun. In December 2015, Tasmanians were able to to see the auroras vivid green and purple lights from as far north as Hobart.

Mark Hathaway, a TVNZ reporter on board the flight, said passengers spent roughly four hours of the flight time viewing the aurora.

A lot of people were like kids at Christmas, he said.

Ian Griffin (@iangriffin)

This is the moon with an aurora 60 degrees south of Earths equator shot from #flighttothelights AKA @FlyAirNZ 1980 #aurora #auroraaustralis pic.twitter.com/aU0AayZq05

March 23, 2017

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/mar/24/passengers-in-awe-of-aurora-australis-on-first-chartered-flight-to-see-southern-lights

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