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 the Aurora cams on this site!
Hopefully your prediction has set you centre stage and just in time for a beautiful performance.