How to Forecast Northern Lights?
The northern lights, also known as aurora borealis, are one of the most awe-inspiring night sky shows in nature. While predicting when and where the northern lights will be visible is difficult, there are a few practical steps you can take to increase your chances of seeing the phenomenon.
1. Choose the Right Location
The best places to spot the northern lights are those located beneath the “Auroral Oval”, an arc-shaped belt of light that circles the poles. The Oval is roughly centered on the magnetic north pole but shifts to the east and west, depending on solar activity. Northern countries like Finland, Norway and Iceland are all good locations to view the northern lights.
2. Monitor Solar Activity
The level of solar activity is a key determining factor for the visibility of the northern lights. Solar activity is measured on a scale that ranges from 1 to 5, with 5 indicating the highest intensity of light. When solar activity is high, the northern lights are more likely to be observed.
Check the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) for the latest solar activity forecasts, as well as for alerts when solar activity is unusually high. Additionally, aurora prediction websites and apps like Aurora Forecast of the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), or Aurora Service of the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), can help you to identify the best time and place to view the northern lights.
3. Dress for the Weather
Northern lights gazing is typically a winter activity, so you should be prepared for cold temperatures and windy conditions. Dress in warm, comfortable layers, and wear proper footwear so that you can move without slipping. Additionally, bring along extra clothing and a blanket just in case.
4. Get Away from Light Pollution
Although the northern lights can sometimes be seen in cities, the views tend to be obscured by light pollution. For a clearer view of the night sky, it is best to find a spot away from artificial lights.
5. Use the Right Gear
To get the best view of the northern lights, it is important to have the right gear. Binoculars or a telescope can help to magnify the view of the night sky. Additionally, a tripod or other stabilizing device can be used to keep the telescope or camera steady.
In order to capture the aurora borealis on camera, you need to have a digital SLR camera and a wide angle lens. The settings on the camera should be changed to a high ISO, high exposure and a wide aperture.
6. aurora Forecast by country or zone
Global Northernlights forecast live update
With the right preparation, you can increase your chances of seeing the beautiful northern lights. Choose the right location, monitor solar activity, dress for the weather, get away from light pollution, and bring the right gear. By following these steps, you’ll be ready to take in the dazzling night sky show of the northern lights.
The best systems to forecast aurora are available online like this website