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Aurora Labs Northern Lights Science Space weather

Our Brand-New Aurora Forecast 5.0 App

Aurora Labs is proud to present you its brand-new Aurora Forecast 5.0 app and its new features! Now it’s possible to choose a location or to even geolocalise yourself, in order to find out the current weather and auroral conditions in your area and to determine if it’s possible to see the Aurora! Now it’s very easy and fun to see if you should go out (or not) to hunt the Northern Lights, thanks to the colour coded tiles in the app! And no, you don’t need to know what is Bz, Kp, Bt, …

All the necessary data for forecasting and preparing your next Northern Light hunt – handy, in one single place, in this new app from Aurora Labs! Absolutely free and no ads!

Aurora forecast for the next few minutes for both Northern and Southern hemispheres, live Kp and solar wind data, 3 days Kp forecast, live Sun images and current and scheduled cloud coverage for the next few hours in multiple regions!

Don’t miss the magnificent Northern Lights when you’re out and about here in the Arctic! Hunt the Northern Lights professionally!

…And travel to the Arctic differently!

Categories
Aurora Labs Space weather

Drones and Space Weather

Aurora Labs is now the happy owner of its very first drone! I (Sergiu) am completely new to this world of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – a world that’s extremely promising, considering the advantages that such a device brings: not only for cool photos and videos, but also for weather footage, Northern Lights shooting from a different perspective, and even… well… the fun of piloting one! 🙂

I can’t wait to become accustomed to flying the drone and thus to make it a close part of Aurora Labs’ activities! But this, of course, is subject to weather and, equally important, to space weather! I’ll explain next.

Influence of Space Weather on Drones

Space weather does influence the use of drones! When solar flares, CMEs or coronal holes occur, a geomagnetic storm is likely to occur on Earth. The nice thing about these storms is that they mean strong and beautiful Auroras here in the Arctic. …But they also mean interference of communication systems – such as GPS!

Modern drones strongly rely on GPS for locating themselves, for maintaining their position under stronger winds, for returning back to their initial starting point when you press the Return-to-home button on your radio controller, or when your drone’s battery is at its alert level and the vehicle needs to land soon.

These geomagnetic storms – which, by the way, occur even in summer! – can interfere with GPS, meaning that the positioning system becomes very inaccurate and the drone might land in completely different places than the defined home point, or, in worse cases, it forces your drone to enter the ATTI mode (or manual mode), as GPS may even become unavailable.

How to take space weather into account when flying your drone?

Space weather is many times omitted when talking about flying a drone securely. But it’s a very important factor to take into account!

So, next time you take your drone out, do check the current Kp index, or planetary index, as it is called scientifically. To keep things simple and short, Kp measures the global geomagnetic activity, and takes a value from 0 to 9, 0 meaning a very low (or no) activity and 9 a very strong geomagnetic storm.

To see the current value of Kp, do check Aurora Labs’ own Aurora Forecast page or our Aurora Forecast app.

As a general rule, values of Kp ranging from 0 to 4 can be considered safe for flying your drone. When Kp becomes 5 or higher, a geomagnetic storm is under way and you must think twice before piloting your drone, especially if you’re not used to piloting it manually.

To learn much more about Kp and forecasting space weather, take a look at our Learn the Aurora Online Workshop, or just visit us here in Vadsø and book a Learn the Aurora workshop with Aurora Labs! This way, you can even earn your very own Aurora Labs diploma in this beautiful subject! 😊

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Aurora Labs Northern Lights Space weather

Aurora Labs’ New App

Meet Aurora Labs’ brand new Android app! Aurora Forecast brings you the forecasting of Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis right at your fingertips! In the app’s easy to use and light interface, forecasting the Northern Lights and checking the current space weather conditions have never been easier!

Our new app is available on the Google Play store, for the moment on Android devices, and is completely free and contains no ads! And you can choose English or French for its interface!

Get it on Google Play

You think the Northern Lights season is over, now that the Midnight Sun is slowly taking over the night sky? Think again!😉 There are always Northern Lights here at Aurora Labs! The Aurora is there, up in the sky, even in summer – it’s just that you can’t see it because of the continuous sunlight! But you can hear it with us if you come here in Vadsø! So, our app is useful even in summer!

In addition, if you live in more southern latitudes (…or more northern latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere!), and nights are still dark, you might have a chance for a geomagnetic storm! And with our app you might be able to see if that happens! And who knows, you might see, even a glimpse of the Northern (or Southern) Lights!

So go ahead and give it a try! And if you need help in interpreting the info, head over to the Aurora Forecast page on our website, for a quick introduction. Or, if you’d like to understand everything there is about the Aurora and space weather, why not take our Learn the Aurora Online workshop right from the comfort of your own home?

And if you have any suggestions for the app, drop me a line! I’ll try to update it as often and as best as I can 😊And don’t hesitate to rate it on Google Play and help it to become known!

Enjoy! 😊

Categories
Northern Lights Space weather Universe

Solar Minimums

This year is a solar minimum. What does that mean? Can we see the Northern Lights during a year of solar minimum, such as 2020?

Scientists have been monitoring our Sun’s activity since hundreds of years and have observed that it varies periodically. More exactly, the number of the visible sunspots on our star’s surface, increases then decreases periodically, during a period of 11 years. When this number is on the low side – that’s a solar minimum, and we are currently there in 2020. The next solar maximum is expected towards 2025-2026.

Sunspots are associated to high solar activity (solar flares, coronal mass ejections) – which is necessary for Auroras to form here on Earth. But solar activity can also be due to other phenomena, such as coronal holes, which can occur even at solar minimums, and do not depend on the number of sunspots!

So, to answer the last question is the introductory paragraph – “yes”, the Aurora can be seen during years of solar minimums, too! And very well even, as coronal holes can lead to powerful geomagnetic storms!

In addition, places located on the Kp=0 Auroral Oval, such as Vadsø, need a considerably little activity in order to display beautiful Auroras. So, here in our region, the Northern Lights are seen in amazing displays, even in solar minimum years.