Aurora Borealis Watch

A colourful display of Aurora Borealis in Finland

Aurora Borealis is a very beautiful phenomenon, but a lot of people have never seen it and don’t know when or where to look out for it, so I created this page so that it will be much easier to know when to keep an eye on the skies.

There are a few weather websites that show data on solar activity and a couple of websites that show aurora borealis predictions, so I want to collect the best of those sites and try to make the content available here, collected in an easy manner, so that it will be easier to overview and know when to look up to the sky to be able to see something some people only dream of seeing.

Aurora can be seen throughout the whole year, not only when it is cold, as some people believe. The only thing that is required is that the skies are clear because Aurora Borealis is not a weather phenomenon, it occurs high above the clouds, and dark skies. Sunlight and even bright moonlight can make the Aurora difficult to see though, so keep a good lookout!

The red “View Line” 1000 km equatorward of the aurora shows from where it is possible to see the aurora during good viewing conditions. The chart is updated roughly every 10 minutes or so. View a larger version of this image.

To see the current Aurora Forecast, you can either refer to the image above or go to the Geophysical Institute Aurora Forecast which also includes a description of what is to be expected during the current conditions. Click here to visit their webpage.

The activity or intensity of Aurora Borealis is measured on a scaled called the “Kp Index” which goes from 0-9. This scale also relates to how far equatorward it is possible to see the Aurora. To see examples of how the activity looks during the different points of the scale, click the picture gallery below.

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11-Year Solar Cycle

Aurora Borealis has it’s peak roughly every 11 years, and have been measured for more than 400 years, since the time of Galileo! To see this graph go all the way back to the 1620’s, check this link out. It’s calculated that we will have the top activity of Aurora Borealis in 2013-2014, but we are already seeing a lot more activity than just a couple of years ago.

How to predict Aurora Borealis

There are many metrics that are used for predicting Aurora Borealis. For example, you can measure the solar activity and the solar storms and get a kind of prediction from that, which is much like weather prediction here on earth, not completely correct, but at least a guideline. This kind of solar-weather prediction is done with measuring the x-ray radiation that comes off from the sun. You can view a graph that gets updated every 5 minutes of the current Solar X-ray Flux here.

This chart is updated every 5 minutes

In the lowest section of this picture you can see the estimated current Kp level.

Here is another chart that shows the current aurora activity. It is not as clear, but it is still kind of interesting:

Be sure to check back to this page often, as I will update it with more information and data later. Happy Aurora hunting!

For more reading, check out these webpages: