NASA pointed out that the rays of light resembled a fire-breathing dragon. (Jingyi Zhang and Wang Zheng)
Curtin University student Jingyi Zhang knew she had captured something special when she photographed the northern lights over Iceland, but it was not until she returned home that she realized how remarkable her photo was.
- Zhang took the photo while vacationing in Gullfoss, southwest Iceland
- The image was featured in his blog Astronomy Picture of the Day
- NASA says February saw several days of "picturesque aurora activity"
The Aurora Borealis changes in the sky, with Zhang capturing the spectacle just as it took on a mythical form.
Look at this in a way and the shape of a head with a heavy eye-brow and a muzzle that produces purple smoke becomes clear.
"I noticed the dragon in the picture when I got home," the amateur photographer told ABC.
Zhang's mother can be seen in the foreground of the photo. (Jingyi Zhang and Wang Zheng)
Zhang was on vacation near Gullfoss in southwestern Iceland with his mother and a friend.
She said she was "very lucky" to witness the show, which was at the brightest end of the scale for this kind of geomagnetic activity.
Zhang's mother was so captivated by the light show that she ran into the snow to marvel at it.
His figure can be seen in the foreground, diminished by the figure of the celestial dragon in the sky above it.
The stunning photo has become more than a simple holiday snap, appearing on NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day blog earlier this month.
"The aurora was caused by a hole in the Sun's crown that ejected charged particles into a solar wind that followed a changing interplanetary magnetic field into Earth's magnetosphere," the station said.
"When some of these particles hit the Earth's atmosphere, they excited atoms that subsequently emitted light: aurora.
"No sunspot has appeared in the Sun so far in February, making the several days of picturesque activity at dawn this month somewhat surprising."
Since being introduced by the space agency, Zhang's photo has been shared around the world.
Stargazing next door
Zhang is not a professional photographer, but has transformed her passion into more than just a weekend pastime.
Last year, his photo, called Magic, was recognized at the British astronomy photographer competition of the year, run by the Royal Observatory Greenwich.
The shot, which was also made in Iceland, combined Zhang's passion for underwater photography and astrophotography.
Zhang, who studies jewelry design, is based in Perth.
When she can, she leaves the city to capture the open plains of WA under the night sky.
She publishes her work on a photo-sharing website, which shows her study of the great Australian landscape.
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