Today we released a new addition to our aurora map: the Aurorasaurus report layer. This new layer allows you to see where others are reporting aurora sightings in near real-time. In this blog post, we’ll go into details about the Aurorasaurus project, how you can help, and why we’ve collaborated with them for our map.
What is Aurorasaurus?
Aurorasaurus is a really neat citizen science project. Its primary goal is to collect reports of aurora sightings, including those submitted to it directly and those posted on Twitter, to advance our understanding of this majestic phenomenon. One of their other main aims is to show where people are seeing the aurora, from right across the globe, in real-time. You can even sign up to receive notifications when others near you report seeing the aurora.
What does this mean for the AuroraWatch UK map?
We have collaborated with Aurorasaurus to show aurora sightings from the British Isles (inc. the UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands) on our map. These sightings include those submitted directly to Aurorasaurus and “verified tweets”. Verified tweets are sightings posted on Twitter which Aurorasaurus users have then voted on and determined to be real-time sightings of the aurora. We also show negative reports: where people have reported that they cannot see aurora (perhaps because it’s cloudy or because the aurora just isn’t visible from their location).
Positive sightings are shown on our map by the “thumbs up” icon. Clicking on this will show you more about the sighting. Negative reports, where the sky was clear, are shown by a “thumbs down” icon. Negative reports where the sky was cloudy, or there was too much light pollution, are shown by a cloud symbol.
If no icons are showing, even with the Reports layer turned on, it’s just that there weren’t any reports last night.
Can I get involved?
Yes, definitely! We really want to encourage you to submit your aurora sightings (or negative reports if you can’t see it) to Aurorasaurus. This is easy to do and you don’t need to create an account – though we recommend you do create one so you can receive their notifications and earn points for your reports.
If you’re using a computer: Simply visit their main page and you’ll see a big map with a header like this:
Click on the green “yes” button if you saw an aurora; click on the red “no” button if you didn’t. Depending on which button you click, a form will pop-up allowing you to add your report and you can even add a photo.
If you’re using a phone: we recommend you download the Aurorasaurs app. It’s available for iOS and Android. You can submit a report directly from the app and upload photos. Pro tip: We recommend using your smartphone to snap a picture of the display on the back of your camera if you’re reporting when out aurora hunting.
Any sightings you report to Aurorasaurus will appear within a few minutes on our map. You can also help with verifying tweets. For more information on this visit the Aurorasaurus help section, and take their quiz.
Why collaborate with Aurorasaurus?
Some of you may recall that we used to have our own long-running sightings database. We removed it as part of our website upgrade. It was a bit difficult to use and not interactive. We could have updated this, for sure, but felt that a collaboration with Aurorasaurus was a much better option.
In addition to helping create alerts for others, your reports will be used by scientists to understand more about the aurora and help produce better predictions in the future. The Aurorasaurus project is completely transparent about how your sightings are used, and you can chose to submit annonymously or sign in and have your sighting attributed to you. Everyone can see the reports, including photos submitted with them, without needing to create an account.
Can I access historical data, or reports from outside the UK?
Yes, simply visit the Aurorasaurus website. From there you can view all the reports, including historical observations and reports from outside of the British Isles.
If you have any questions or comments about this new layer, or about our collaboration with Aurorasaurus, please let us know in the comments section below. Or feel free to contact us at AuroraWatch UK or contact the team at Aurorasaurus.