Using real-time solar wind data from Nasa’s ACE spacecraft, matched with data obtained from a network of magnetometers located worldwide, we are able to forecast, with reasonable accuracy, how the Northern Lights will behave up to one hour in advance. The image shows estimated aurora activity now.
Right now, the aurora is predicted to be: Kp 0.33
In 0 hour and 19 minutes, the aurora is predicted to be kp 0.67
In 0 hour and 34 minutes, the aurora is predicted to be kp 1.00
In 0 hour and 47 minutes, the aurora is predicted to be kp 1.00
System status: All Good.
While all the other forecasts are using satellite and scientific data. The Daily aurora forecast is predicted at 5pm Finnish time (2pm Universal Time) by a person. (The computer models and predictions are great, but using real life experience and pattern recognition is something they can’t do).
- 19th August
Tonight’s estimated aurora level:
Level 5 – G1 Minor Geomagnetic Storm
Auroral activity should be at G1 Storm levels! Weather permitting, aurora displays may be visible overhead or on the horizon in Oslo (Norway), Turku (Finland), Stockholm (Sweden) and Thurso (Scotland).
A CME arrived at Earth this morning, we’d mentioned it the last couple days saying it was only going to produce kp3/kp4 at best, and so it looked like that would be the case as the appeared CME weak upon it’s arrival (slow and the Bz northward), basically all things that we do not want to see from it. BUT in the last few hours, it has all changed. The Bz has dived south, speed elevated slightly and it is now looking very promising indeed. Things don’t happen immediately when the solar wind changes like that, the energy slowly builds up in Earth’s magneto tail and at some point, that energy will snap back towards Earth accelerating great steams of particles towards us. It is at that point we will see very strong geomagnetic activity, I predict at least a strong kp5 tonight, perhaps even a little more. Good hunting folks!
3 Day Forecast
Courtesy of NOAA.
- 19th – 21st August
The solar wind environment is expected to reflect CME characteristics for the next 24 hours. A return to mostly nominal conditions is expected beginning midday on day 2 (20 August), although a weak coronal hole presence may be detected.
Predicted kp numbers for the next 3 days:
Time now in UTC (Universal Time) is: 06:48 20/08/14
Aug 20 Aug 21 Aug 22
00-03UT 6 (G2) 3 2
03-06UT 6 (G2) 2 2
06-09UT 4 2 2
09-12UT 4 2 2
12-15UT 3 2 2
15-18UT 2 2 2
18-21UT 2 2 2
21-00UT 2 2 2 ..
Rationale: G1 minor to G2 moderate storm levels are expected through the first few periods of day 1 (20 August) as the CME influence persists. Conditions are expected to return to quiet to unsettled levels by the
Why do we use UTC?
UTC (Universal Time) is used in science, weather, aviation, military and many other fields. It eliminates confusion with multiple time zones and daylight saving. For more information on UTC click here
Solar Wind Gauges
These gauges are our own system, they are updated every 60 seconds directly from Nasa’s ACE spacecraft data. The data you see here is what the ACE spacecraft monitored only moments ago. These 3 components are the most important components of the solar wind (when it comes to Aurora Borealis). Note the Bz gauge works backwards. You can view all the components of the solar wind on our other solar wind tool here.
Gauges are updated every minute live (without the need for page refresh).
How to interpret the gauge activity
SWPC Solar Wind Dials
Real time solar wind tool (*NEW*)
click to launch
Aurora Ovation Oval
(short term prediction)
NOAA CME Prediction Forecast (*NEW*)
click to launch
NASA CME Prediction Forecast (*NEW*)
click to launch
ACE Real Time Solar Wind MAG & SWEPAM data
ACE Real Time Solar Wind EPAM (Low Energy Electrons & Protons) data
Magnetometer located in Dombås, Norway 62°N
Aurora Service HQ Magnetometer *Beta Testing* | How we built it
There is a lot of building work going on at Aurora Service HQ until around mid July (new roof!) and it is interfering with the magnetometer as they have tools and all sorts of ferrous objects near it, so we have temporary disabled it until the builders have gone (it was meant to be middle of June…).
How to read a magnetometer
It’s not exactly straight forward because magnetometers can be set up in 3 different ways so it’s important to know what system the magnetometer is using.
- Geographic coordinates – North (X), East (Y), Vertical down (Z)
- Geographic coordinates – Horizontal intensity (H), Declination (D), Vertical down (Z)
- Geomagnetic coordinates – Magnetic north (H), magnetic east (D), Vertical down (Z)
Our magnetometer is set up using the first system, with X, Y and Z co-ordinates. When it comes to northern lights, we are usually most interested in the Y(By) trace. But if it is a commercial magnetometer like Dombås (above) they will instead use H, D and Z co-ordinates. It is often difficult to determine which system (2nd or 3rd) is in use as they both use the same letters. In the Dombås magnetometer above, TGO are still using analog magnetometers and they are using declination as their D co-ordinates. Which means they are using the second system on the list. So in this instance, it is best to use the H trace (which is a vector of X and Y) for aurora watching. The Z-component (vertical) normally is influenced most by induced electric currents in the Earth’s crust and is essentially the same on all systems. Although H and Y are what we typically monitor, the other traces do have their uses and if they start moving significantly, it is usually a good sign of strong geomagnetic activity.
What Kp strength do you need to view Northern Lights where you are?
The Northern Lights are most often seen in the Lapland regions of Finland, Sweden and Norway along with Iceland and Greenland. But during high activity, auroras are often visible from much lower latitudes, often including Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Estonia and more. This table allows you to see what Kp level is typically required see aurora borealis where you are in the event of high geomagnetic activity.