Aurora only occur in particular areas of the world and are highly unpredictable which are some of the reasons why many people feel fortunate to see them at all. And, for the majority of known human history, you could only experience the beauty and mystique of aurora in person. Not anymore! Recently, the first virtual reality experiences for aurora were created! Virtual reality, often referred to as VR, allows users to connect to virtual worlds through using specialized goggles like this:
Slip them on and you are transported into a different world you can look around in and experience as if you were physically there.
Up until recently, experiencing VR involved a significant financial investment for most people. The goggles pictured above sell for nearly $600. But, experiencing VR has become more affordable. Now, you can find much cheaper goggles that still deliver an exciting VR experience by pairing with smartphones and their built-in sensors to deliver the VR experience. They act as smartphone holders with special lens optics to optimize the VR experience. Samsung has this pair of high-quality VR goggles that will work with its phones for about $100. Looking for an even more affordable VR experience? Try the Google Cardboard VR goggles. They are a great starter pair of goggles capable of delivering an exciting VR experience at a fraction of the cost of some of the higher-priced VR options out there, and they work on many different smartphones including Android and iOS operating systems.
The View-Master Virtual Reality Goggles are a type of Google Cardboard device made of sturdy plastic that work well with smartphones and only cost about $17 on Amazon.
If you do decide to purchase a pair of VR goggles, you can use them to see aurora and a whole host of other exciting things! The Cardboard app for either iOS or Android devices has a VR experience called “Arctic Journey” that features a simulation of aurora too!
In trying the Cardboard App “Arctic Journey” experience, here are a few things to keep in mind. After you insert your phone into the goggles and put them on, you’ll need to be able to “click” on things to move forward in the experience. To do this, use your eyes as you would your hand; where you move your focus is where you move your “cursor.” Once you find the button you’re looking for, such as “home” or “start”, use the clicker located on the right-hand side of the goggles to select that option. In the Arctic Journey experience be sure to select the “Relax” part of the simulation to be able to experience aurora. If you do, you should see landscapes like this (but not separated as seen below, instead as one 3d viewing experience using the goggles):
And, don’t forget to look around! Move your head up and down and all around and you’ll see different parts of the experience.
Now, onto the 360° video experience of aurora. YouTube (in partnership with Google) in particular has a great feature for viewing on VR devices. All you have to do to use the VR experience on YouTube is click the “Cardboard icon” that looks like this in the bottom right hand corner of the video:
Aurorasaurus compiled a VR playlist called “VR – 360° video” on our YouTube channel specifically for a VR viewing experience of the aurora.
The first video is about 7 ½ minutes long and shows beautiful colorful aurora in a very realistic time lapse. This playlist aggregates content on YouTube by amazing photographers. VR goggles are a great way to “see” this content, which is now popular on YouTube and Facebook. It includes 180° or 360° camera lenses including fisheye and Ricoh lenses.
Well, what are you waiting for? Sitting on your couch or at your desk and want to see aurora, right now? You can! Even without the goggles you can see the video through a smartphone on our YouTube channel moving the phone around to see different angles of the experience. (Don’t forget to LOOK UP to see aurora! 😉)