Waiting For The Solar Wind To Arrive

KP Index: Planetary Kp-index (3 hour data)
NOAA POES Auroral Activity: NOAA
NOAA 27 Day Outlook: Get Report
Aurora Photos: Photo Gallery
SWPC Tips: Viewing Aurora
Geomagnetic Storm Scale: NOAA Space Weather

WEBCAMS
1. Talkeetna – TAT’s Web Cam
2. Minnesota – Isle, MN Chapman’s Mille Lacs Resort
3. Turnagain Arm – Southcentral Alaska
4. Anchorage Lake Hood – Alaska Airmen’s Web Cam
5. Winnipeg – Live Winnipeg Webcams
6. Alaska Climate Research Center – Alaska Climate Research Center Web Cam
7. Live International Space Station – Above your head
8. Porjus – Northern part of Sweden (Good site)
9. Yellowknife – AuroraMAX Project Yellowknife in NWT Canada. (en francais aussi.)

Please drop a line if you know of other webcams worthy of mentioning. Please leave comments, photos, etc. Thanks for the visit and come back often!

Normally the best time of year to watch Aurora Borealis is from December to March when nights are longest and the sky darkest.

For space weather current conditions go to SpaceWeather.com.

Directions for taking pictures of the aurora:
Use a wide-angle lens and a sturdy, well balanced tripod. Slower films, ASA 100 to 200, capture bright colors but will require longer exposures; the lights will appear smeared. ASA 1000 speed film records clearer shapes, but the colors may not be as vivid and the photos are often grainy. Shoot at F-2.8 and hold the shutter open for 20 to 30 seconds. The time of the exposure depends on the brightness of the aurora [Source: fairbanks-alaska.com].

The aurora is most active late at night or early in the morning, when the sky is clear. Alaska is probably the best place to watch the northern lights. But, it was seen as far south as Minnesota last night. It never hurts to go outside late at night and look to the northern skies. Here is a guide to Aurora Photography.

The counterpart of the Northern Lights, is the aurora australis or the Southern Polar Lights, has similar properties, but is only visible from high southern latitudes in Antarctica, South America, or Australasia.

I could not resist but to share this link with other photoheads. The Big Foto site has some absolutely stunning photos – Aurora Australis, the southern polar lights. Be sure to check out other works by these photographers.

Auroras are more frequent and brighter during the intense phase of the solar cycle when coronal mass ejections increase the intensity of the solar wind.

It is predicted that Solar Cycle 24 will peak in May 2013 with 90 sunspots, which would be the fewest since Solar Cycle 16.

Putting It All Together — Can I, or can’t I, see the Aurora?
Once you know your magnetic latitude, and how high the Kp index needs to be for you to see the aurora at your magnetic latitude, it comes down to choosing a viewing time of high magnetic activity by frequently checking the Kp index and SWPC forecast. It could also be worthwhile to check the POES Auroral Activity page, which might or might not be more up-to-date than the Kp, depending on the time of the most recent polar pass of the POES satellite. (The table below will help you relate the POES Auroral Activity Level to the Kp index.) Of course, for you to see the aurora it will also have to be a clear night without interference from city lights or moonlight.

Please share any websites that have webcams viewing the Northern Lights!