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Brilliant Southern Lights and Milky Way Shine at South Pole (Photos)
Astrophotographer Hunter Davis captured this view of the Milky Way and southern lights at the South Pole.
Credit: Hunter Davis

Like the inside of a child's iridescent summer bubble wand, the aurora australis — also known as the southern lights — and the Milky Way bend across the sky in a stunning display of sapphire blue and fuchsia pink.

Astrophotographer Hunter Davis captured two images of our galaxy's band of neighboring stars sharing the sky with the southern lights. They were taken in Antarctica, just over a relay station at the South Pole before the winter solstice, Davis said. The snow that blankets the base of the photos accentuates the brightness of the lights in the sky.

 "I've been working and living at the South Pole station since Oct. 30th 2016, and will finally leave for home in early November," Davis told Space.com in an email. "The night sky down here is one of the prettiest things I've ever seen."

"With the solstice coming up and marking the half point through winter, it's kind of sad to think we will lose this beautiful night sky soon," astrophotographer Hunter Davis told Space.com. Come early August, the sun will once again appear on the horizon at his location in Antarctica.
"With the solstice coming up and marking the half point through winter, it's kind of sad to think we will lose this beautiful night sky soon," astrophotographer Hunter Davis told Space.com. Come early August, the sun will once again appear on the horizon at his location in Antarctica.
Credit: Hunter Davis

Magnetized plasma particles are often released from stormy sunspot regions on the sun's surface and travel into space as solar wind. After coming toward us in what is roughly a 40-hour journey, the particles meet Earth's upper atmosphere to create a magical display of southern lights. Most people in North America are more familiar with the term for this hemisphere's counterpart, the aurora borealis, than they are with the aurora australis. The stormy, smoldering birth of the solar wind might surprise admirers who are only familiar with the majestic, seemingly peaceful auroras that appears in the skies of each hemisphere. 

The grandeur of the aurora australis is highlighted further with the Milky Way visibly shining behind it. The galaxy has a diameter of 100,000 light-years, so one can only imagine the colorful variety of aurora shows that could be playing out on other worlds with the Milky Way backdrop.

Hunter Davis captured these images with a Canon 6D camera and Nikon 14-24-mm lens.

Editor's note: If you capture an amazing photo of the night sky and you'd like to share it with us and our partners for a story or image gallery, send images and comments in to managing editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com.

Follow Doris Elin Salazar on Twitter @salazar_elin. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.