Exploring Aurora from Home

Aurora citizen science often involves gazing at the sky outdoors, but there is a lot of learning and citizen science that can be done from home! In this post, we have compiled some resources for families, students, and aurora enthusiasts. Best of all, we are here for you if you have questions on this material—tweet us @TweetAurora or email us at aurorasaurus.info@gmail.com. So pour your beverage of choice, cozy into your favorite chair, and explore the sky with these recommended activities:

Family Fun

    • Aurorasaurus has put together a family-friendly YouTube playlist of aurora science and Aurorasaurus videos. The videos start at a level geared toward younger children and build to more complex concepts. Find out why reindeers aren’t quite better than people at explaining aurora, how two intrepid citizen scientists record auroras on a remote island in Norway, and how the magnetosphere resonates like a guitar. Subscribe for more great videos!

      Sven the Reindeer from Frozen stands in front of a chalkboard with a diagram of particles flowing from the Sun to the Earth, but which leaves out the magnetosphere.

      Great job on the solar wind explanation, Sven—but don’t forget about the Earth’s magnetosphere! Still from Disney’s LEGO Disney Frozen Northern Lights: Race to Lookout Mountain

 

  • Wowzers! In 2018, NPR’s Wow in the World podcast covered “An Aurora Named STEVE!” and this episode explains the science in an amazingly creative way young learners aged 5-10 will especially enjoy.
  • Artists throughout history have tried to capture the beauty of the Northern and Southern Lights. Take part in a millennia-old tradition and your hand at educational aurora art. How will you choose to express the shapes and colors of the Lights? As you pick out your paints, pens, markers, or crayons, get a quick lesson in aurora colors from the education section of Aurorasaurus, and find out more in our infographic blog post (hint: make sure to grab green and think about perspective!) You can find more aurora art activities designed for elementary and middle school educators and students on the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Museum of the North website.
  • A computer-generated tent glows in a snowy forest, underneath fisheye video capture of the Northern Lights.

    Still from AuroraDome by Jeremy Kuzub

    Take a virtual field trip to see the aurora! Aurorasaurus Ambassador Jeremy Kuzub has been developing a way to turn all-sky camera data into an immersive experience. AuroraDome, currently in development, uses real footage to give you a 360-degree virtual view, in your web browser or on your phone, of camping beneath the Northern Lights! Stay tuned to our blog for a series of posts from Jeremy about his work!

  • Join another citizen science effort! Did you know that Aurorasaurus team members are citizen scientists for other projects, like iNaturalist and CoCoRaHS?

Ideas for College Students & Adults

    • An infographic reads: #AuroraShare, May 4-18. Visit www.aurorasaurus.org. Register and report your favorite aurora sightings from the past year. Spread the word! Follow us on Twitter @TweetAurora and on Facebook. More details at blog.aurorasaurus.org. Your reports help us gather data and improve the website. If you give us permission to share your photo and story on social media, please leave a statement in your report.

      Join us for #AuroraShare!

      Participate Now with Aurorasaurus! Take part in Aurorasaurus citizen science with our #AuroraShare campaign: from May 4-18, make reports and upload photos from your favorite aurora moments in the past year! You’ll not only help us improve the website, but your amazing photos and reports will be featured on our social media! New to Aurorasaurus? Check out this step-by-step walkthrough video by Aurorasaurus Ambassador Vincent Ledvina. Please note that you can only make 2 observations per hour and 6 per day; this helps protect our data from spam.

  • Enjoy an aurora talk! Our team and Aurorasaurus Ambassadors have recently given presentations that are available online:
      • Chris Ratzlaff gave a presentation to the Alberta Aurora Chasers on Facebook called “Chasing the Elusive.”
      • Jeremy Kuzub gave a talk to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada on “A Year of Aurora Chasing.”
      • Vincent Ledvina’s April Astronomy Talk for the University of North Dakota is “Citizen Science—Everyone Can Make a Difference.”
      • Find out more about the subauroral phenomenon STEVE and the heartwarming short documentary Chasing Steve in this Q&A with an expert panel.
      • Watch Dr. Liz’s recent Science for Alaska Public Lecture Series talk, “Aurorasaurus: how you can get involved in aurora research.”
  • Take a free aurora science class! Physics of the Aurora: Earth Systems from MetEd was created for university professors and undergraduate students in the fields of physics and astronomy. It contains intermediate-level vocabulary, but provides solid grounding in aurora science to beginners and intermediate learners alike with nice visualizations. Highly recommended!
  • A Twitter page header has an image of the world seen from space as the cover photo, with an astronomical photo as the profile photo. It reads "NASA Citizen Science. @DoNASAScience. NASA’s Citizen Science projects are collaborations between scientists and interested members of the public. Washington, DC. science.nasa.gov/citizenscience."

    @DoNASAScience on Twitter

    Connect with other enthusiasts on social media! Tag us with an aurora question on Twitter @TweetAurora or on Facebook and start an aurora conversation. You can also keep up with NASA citizen science by following @DoNASAScience on Twitter and Facebook.

  • Keep your eyes on the skies—even at mid-latitudes—with aurora cameras!

  • Explore the human connection to aurora by reading the Aurora Stories blog by Dr. Melanie Windridge, and watch our author Q&A on her book, Aurora: In Search of the Northern Lights.
  • Find inspiration in the power of ordinary people working together by watching the free citizen science documentary series The Crowd & the Cloud.

Are you finding creative ways to explore the aurora from home? Let us know in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “Exploring Aurora from Home

  • Hi!
    I am a moderator on explore.org for their Churchill Manitoba live cams (Polar Bears, Beluga whales and the Northern Lights). explore.org is the philanthropic multimedia division of the Annenberg Foundation. We have 150 Live nature cams and educational films. Our motto is Never Stop Learning.

    Our Northern Lights cam is positioned of the roof of a building at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre located about 13 miles outside of the Town of Churchill, which sits directly under the auroral oval and boasts of 300 nights per year of Aurora activity. I thought you might want to add the explore.org Aurora cam to this blog. https://explore.org/livecams/aurora-borealis-northern-lights/northern-lights-cam to this blog.
    Here is an example of what we see on the live cam. This was recorded on April 13, 2020.
    https://youtu.be/KELJQ0tNHrI

    Thank you for your great website and for continuing the study of the Aurora through Citizen Scientists.

    Very truly yours,
    Laurie Bauerhill
    AKA Cloud on explore.org

  • Thanks so much, Laurie! We have updated the post with a list of aurora cameras, including yours. Please let us know if you have any other ideas!

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