The auroras have been speculated over and studied in great detail here in Lapland, with over a hundred years of expeditions, instrument development and international cooperation. Today, a network of scientific instruments in space and here on Earth provide round-the-clock information about the when, where and how intense of our alluring Aurora Borealis. Here we wish to guide you through some of this information so you can predict your own aurora experience and have a greater understanding of what is actually going on up there.
Abisko AURORA skycam
We are happy to be part of the world’s largest and most advanced Aurora Live and Alert system set up by Canon and AURORA skycam. At the moment we have 17 cameras in northern Scandinavia running and our aim is to set up another 10 cameras soon. Two of the cameras are sitting atop of photographer Peter Rosén’s house and keeps a steady eye on the most active portion of our northerly atmosphere. Other nearby cameras are placed in Narvik and Jukkasjärvi.
Download our app if you want to see high quality live images of aurora borealis from cameras placed in great locations in Sweden, Norway, and Finland (next up Iceland and Canada). Via the app you will get access to live images from all cameras, aurora borealis forecasts, Kp-simulator, live weather forecast and push notifications when the aurora is visible. This is the first kind of system giving you access to live cameras from real GPS-coded locations that have an automatic analyzing and detection system for northern lights. The cameras show high quality pictures 24/7.
If you join one of our Aurora photo courses we will have the app online to increase your chance to see the aurora.
The image below is an example from the app and is updated every fifteen minutes. Once the sun sets, it is time to begin to spy. All camera equipment is sponsored by Canon.
Abisko, north. Images taken with a Canon 60D, 14:2.8. AURORA skycam makes it possibile to view images live.
Abisko, west. Images taken with a Canon 5D Mark II, 24:2.8. AURORA skycam makes it possibile to view images live.
Brändön, Luleå. Images taken with a Canon 60D, 24:2.8. AURORA skycam makes it possibile to view images live.
Jukkasjärvi – ICEHOTEL. Images taken with a Canon 700D, 24:2.8. AURORA skycam makes it possibile to view images live.
Now, onto a more celestial view of the aurora action
This image below is produced using the most recent data collected by the NOAA POES satellite. The satellite collects data on energy levels in the atmosphere. It provides an estimate of the location, extent and intensity of aurora on a global basis. It is updated every 10 minutes, giving you a guide to the possibility of seeing aurora at a given location at the time of the most recent satellite pass. The greater the power flux recorded by the satellite (0 to 10 erg/cm2/s), the redder the auroral oval, and thus the greater the likelihood of seeing aurora. Worth noting is the n-factor, to the left of the image, which tells you how accurate the image is. This is based on the satellite performance at the time, i.e. the amount of data collected. The lower the value, preferably far below 2.0, the more accurate the image. The red arrow points to the noon meridian. Wait for the update and see how the oval shifts!
Onto Earth’s magnetosphere
Now, the final bit of data comes from the magnetometers based in Kiruna at the Swedish Institute of Space Physics. Click on the link and you will see data in a Kiruna Eda Magnetogram for today’s date. This is a record of the amount of activity in the portion of the magnetosphere around Kiruna. When high-energy particles travel into the atmosphere along the magnetic field lines, the activity rises, thus resulting in aurora. So, a rise, or peaks, in the magnetogram means there is something going on in the atmosphere in the region around Kiruna!
How do you then use these to hunt for the aurora?
First, check out the latest position of the auroral oval, and the quality of the data (n-factor). Next, how much activity is there? How “red” is the oval? After that, look at the raw data from Kiruna. Is there anything being recorded by the instruments here? And when everything says there is a show on the way – check out Peter Rosén’s Aurora camera on this site!
Hopefully your prediction has set you centre stage and just in time for a beautiful performance.