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'Hello Aurora' App Helps Track Northern Lights

'Hello Aurora' App Helps Track Northern Lights

Wednesday, 5 January, 2022 - 07:00
The aurora borealis (northern lights) is seen over the sky in Enontekio in Lapland, Finland, Jan. 25, 2021. (Reuters)

So, you want to see the northern lights? Experts will often tell you it’s best to travel as far north as you can in the dark winter months to get good chances of witnessing this spectacle. And yet even if you head to the northernmost points of Scandinavia or Alaska, there’s no guarantee you’ll get to see these lights — but there is help, the German news agency (dpa) reported.

The Hello Aurora app, developed by two Icelandic inventors, is designed to tell you one simple thing: whether or not aurora borealis will be visible at your current location.

To do this, it uses complex information on weather, magnetic fields and solar storms and calculates the probability of northern lights. As a kind of weather app for aurora borealis, it not only shows you the sky forecast for right now, but also for the coming days. This should make it easier for northern lights hunters to track down this rarely occurring phenomenon.

The app, which works everywhere in the world, uses data from the magnetometers that are closest at any given time. An international community of aurora hunters makes photos and sighting reports available in real time via the app that can be downloaded on iOS and Android devices.

The phenomenon takes place when charged particles from the sun are pulled by the Earth’s magnetic field towards its poles, where they collide with atoms and molecules in the atmosphere. The energy released in these collisions creates the lights, also known as aurora borealis in the north and aurora australis in the south. When whole clouds of charged particles from the sun, which arrive on the “solar wind,” are reflected between the magnetic poles, it can create similar lights in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. In Europe, Sweden, Iceland, Norway and Finland argue about which one offers the best light show.

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