This website came to be because we love northern lights but we had always lived in Southern Finland (specifically the towns of Lieto, Turku, Korppoo and Piikkiö) where auroras don’t appear too often. If you miss an aurora show at this latitude, you might have to wait a month or even a year until the next good show. So you have to be on top of your game to know when they are coming, or at least know when the chances of them appearing are high. So we started studying astrophysics, heliophysics and geophysics in our spare time to better understand, when..where..and how auroras might be visible at latitudes so far south. If we lived further north, we wouldn’t have needed to go to such lengths. Indeed, if we lived further North, we likely wouldn’t have needed to make this site, so it’s thankful we didn’t. After a couple years our craving for northern lights kept growing, seeing them became an addiction. So we decided to move north. Very north. An 18 hour drive north from our house in South Finland in fact. We jumped from latitude 60°N to a crazy 70°N, which is the most northern latitude you can actually get to in continental Europe. We switched the south coast of Finland with the northern border of Finland & Norway, where we can now see the fells of Norway from our house.
The main driving force behind the website itself was that we were tired of getting scraps of information from all over the web for our own aurora chasing. So we decided to make our own site with all the data we need right there. So I suppose you could say the aurora forecast page was made for our own selfish needs. But we decided to build the rest of the site for aurora chasers all over Europe too. There didn’t exist some tools that we wanted so we decided to make them ourselves (solar wind gauges, and solar wind tool for example). It took a while, the website has changed a lot since the early days, it even changed it’s name once, but now it’s a great resource for aurora chasers all over Europe, or just anybody who loves auroras (you don’t have to be an aurora chaser to feel part of this community).
We don’t claim to be experts, we don’t claim our data is 100% accurate. But what we have is a few years of real life experience forecasting our own aurora nights, and more often that not, we get it right (but of course there are still depressing nights when expectations were not met!). We provide a lot of information on this site from our own experience and from space weather labs such as NOAA and NASA. Everything on the site, regardless of where it came from, should be used as a guide, you can either take it or leave it. There are no guarantees with viewing auroras. You are very welcome to tap into our experience if you are new to aurora chasing, but if your an old hat, you may as well stick with your own gut/experience.
We have been using our website, and only our website for aurora watching for the winter 2013/2014 aurora season. The sun has let us down a bit by being a weak solar max, but anything aurora producing it did throw our way, we seen it (so long as it was sufficient enough for these latitudes). In fact the winter of 2013-2014 (our last winter in South Finland), we seen more auroras than the previous 3 winters combined.
Since we made this website, we have had many messages from people saying it helped them see auroras for the first time. Which is great, it was the whole purpose of making the website. We really hope many more people now and in the future get to see auroras because of this website. As I update this (May 2015) we are out of solar max now and northern lights will become less frequent at low latitudes than they have been in last couple years. But it has been really great the past couple years having an aurora community on the internet. With the advent of social media, amateur aurora chasing really took off, with many dedicated pages and sites devoted to it. Auroras have been round for millions of years of course, but only in the past 50 we have truly understood them and only in the last 5 years they have boomed in popularity thanks to social media. Due to the solar cycle (every 11ish years), aurora chasing will fade in and out of popularity. But who knows how popular they will become in the next solar max (around 2024).
Wherever you are best, of luck in your aurora chasing.
Tony, Piritta & Niilo
Here are some shots of aurora shows we have enjoyed over the past few years in South Finland. There were more shows, but sometimes we didn’t take the camera. All images from Southern Finland (Varsinais Suomi):