The AuroraWatch UK team are happy to announce the release of our new Aurora Map. The map has been designed to provide lots of useful aurora information in an easy to understand way. Through both real-time and historical data, we hope it will help you track down the majestic aurora on your next aurora hunting expedition.
In the following we’ll walk through the different options on the map, discussing each in detail and explaining how they might be useful for aurora hunting. To access the options, simply click on the layer icon in the top-right corner:
You may also notice the zoom in (+) and zoom out (-) buttons along with the full screen button in the top left corner. Alternatively, you can zoom in/out of the map using a pinch-to-zoom action (on touch-enabled devices) or by using the scroll wheel on a mouse (if available).
Enabled by default. This option shows the locations of the AuroraWatch UK magnetometers. Each pin is coloured by the alert status of that magnetometer. Clicking on the pin will open a pop-up window with more details about the magnetometer.
Depending upon the zoom level of the map, magnetometers will group into “clusters”. The number inside the cluster indicates how many magnetometers are within that cluster and the colour indicates the most common alert status. Clicking on the cluster pin will zoom the map and expand the cluster, so that you can see the individual sites.
Coming soon! When our all-sky cameras are ready, we’ll be providing live images through these pins.
Recent photos of the aurora, submitted to the AuroraWatch UK Flickr group, are shown here. Click on a pin to see a preview of the image and click on the image itself to be taken to the high resolution version on Flickr.
Enjoy browsing through the photos and check out where the aurora has recently been captured – they may be useful for future aurora showings!
Here we combine two lists of potential aurora viewing sites. Firstly, we have the AuroraWatch UK list of interesting and picturesque locations from which people have seen the aurora in the past. Secondly, we’ve partnered with Go Stargazing to provide you with their list of publicly accessible night-time stargazing locations. Note that although these sites will generally offer good viewing of the night-sky, they may not all be suitable for aurora hunting as you’ll need uninterrupted views of the northern horizon. You will want to check out these sites during the day first before you go aurora hunting.
We have several MetOffice weather layers which you can enable. The visible light and infrared (IR) satellite images, and the rain radar layer, are observations. We display the most recent observation available. The visible light satellite image is easier to understand than the infrared (IR) satellite image but is not available during night time. There are also layers for cloud forecast, and a combined rain and cloud forecast. We display the next forecast available.
These layers will be useful in determining if it’s worth heading out to your favourite aurora hunting spot – as aurora cannot be seen through clouds.
Ovation aurora forecast
This layer provides an estimate of where an aurora might be visible in the next 30 minutes or so, using data provided by NOAA’s Space Weath Prediction Center. The more opaque (darker) the green, the higher chance of an aurora being visible directly overhead. More details about the Ovation forecast can be found in our other blog post.
If enabled, this option will show the day/night regions on the globe. Darkness is needed to see an aurora.
If you turn this layer on, we will ask your web browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome) for your location. You will then probably receive a prompt from your browser asking something like “Would you like to share your location?”. If you chose yes, your browser will determine a rough estimate of your location. If you choose no, or for some reason location cannot be obtained, then the marker pin will be positioned in the centre of the current map view. In both cases you can drag the marker to your actual location. We do not store your location, it is held only by your browser and is never sent to our servers. It cannot and will not be used to identify you. It is simply a way of helping you orientate yourself on the map and can be especially useful when you have the cloud or rain layers enabled.
We’ve got a “roar-some” collaboration in the works which will add a new layer to the map very soon. We’ll write another blog post as soon as it’s ready. Hold tight!