Tweet Verification 101: Was that a real-time aurora observation or another pretty picture?

As you use Aurorasaurus, you will see many tweets of beautiful aurora pictures. But you’re going to have to ask yourself—is this report a real-time aurora observation or another pretty picture?

The answer is not always clear. Aurorasaurus aims to capture information about aurora in real-time. While we always love to see beautiful aurora pictures, our tweet verification process is aimed at finding real-time or same day observations– this helps us improve our aurora forecasting and nowcasting! Read the following guidelines and you’ll be a step closer to becoming an expert Aurorasaurus user.

A tweet should only be verified as “Yes” if…

  1. the aurora was observed at the tweeter’s location, not somewhere else. Consider a tweet from New York that says, “My Aunt Millie lives in Alaska and just called to tell me that the aurora is beautiful tonight.” This should be classified as a “No.”
  2. the tweet talks about an aurora that was observed in real-time, not from a few days ago. A tweet that says “Can’t get over how beautiful the aurora was in Canada last night!” should be classified as a “No.”
  3. the tweet is in fact talking about aurora, the scientific phenomenon, not the Disney princess, a town’s name, someone’s business, etc.
Check out how we classified the following example tweets. With your help, we can share accurate, real-time information about aurora viewing conditions!
This is a No.
They saw the aurora, but it is a report about “yesterday”, not right now.
This is a No.

This is a retweet of an image of the aurora over Fairbanks, Alaska. Every tweet appears with a pin on our map at the approximate location from where it was sent. This tweet was sent from Washington state, however the tweet says that the picture was taken in Alaska. Since the location is wrong, the tweet likely contains a photo taken by someone else, probably at an earlier time.


This is a No.

Someone who hopes to see an aurora sent this tweet. They are not currently observing an aurora.


This is a No.

This is a reference to Aurora, the Disney princess.


This is a No.

Many states have a city named Aurora, so the word “aurora” occurs frequently in that context. We try to filter these out, but we aren’t perfect!


This is a No.

This one is obviously irrelevant. You may be wondering why spam like this even appears in our list. Sometimes the metadata associated with the tweet contains our search terms. You can’t see the expanded URL for this tweet, but it contains the word “aurora.” Additionally, the filtering software thought a location was included (it mistakenly identified the location as St. Jude). Spam like this can be quickly dismissed by answering “No” when you are verifying tweets. We apologize if you see any tweets that are not suitable for all ages, but we’ll keep working to improve our filtering!

This is a Yes.

This one is a little tricky because it is not obvious what they are tweeting about. It does refer to a “storm” in the @chasethestorm, but does not seem to be a clear reference to an aurora observation. The user though is from Norfolk, which is actually a good place to hunt aurora because of its unobstructed views over the North Sea. Additionally, looking at the user’s twitter profile, you can see that he is an aurora hunter and frequently posts photos of the aurora.

Hints: Looking at where the tweeter is located and the auroral oval on the Aurorasarus map is a useful tool in helping you verify tweets. Also, looking at the user’s profile is a good indication if the tweeter is a frequent aurora hunter.


This is a Yes!


This is a Yes!

A system of this kind is totally new for space science, so we will be evaluating the effectiveness of the system. Bear with us and with your help, the job can become easier! Thanks, Aurorasaurus users!

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One thought on “Tweet Verification 101: Was that a real-time aurora observation or another pretty picture?

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