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Despite the absence of artificial light pollution at Antarctic plateau sites such as Dome A, other factors such as airglow, aurorae and extended periods of twilight have the potential to adversely affect optical observations. We present a statistical analysis of the airglow and aurorae at Dome A using spectroscopic data from Nigel, an optical/near-IR spectrometer operating in the 300–850 nm range. The median auroral contribution to the B, V and R photometric bands is found to be 22.9, 23.4 and 23.0 mag arcsec−2 respectively. We are also able to quantify the amount of annual dark time available as a function of wavelength; on average twilight ends when the Sun reaches a zenith distance of 102.6°.