Become An Aurora Hunter! (Google Hangout recap)

Hello, aurora enthusiasts! If you missed our Google hangout on Wednesday December 10, 2014 at 3pm EST, we have posted the hangout below for you to watch!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWk80wLihBE

On our first Google hangout, we gave a brief overview of what an aurora is, why we collect the data from you, and present some observations of the data we collected over the past few months. Below are some highlights of the Google hangout and the questions that were answered.

HIGHLIGHTS

-Aurorasaurus is a citizen science project that uses the public’s observations to track auroras. Our team of scientists, educators, and computer scientists use the data to improve space weather models. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation. (TIMESTAMP: 0:22)

-Citizen scientists can report and verify aurora sightings on aurorasaurus.org and on the free Aurorasaurus phone apps for Android and iPhone. We launched our apps and new website in late October 2014.

-Since launching the apps, we have observed an increase of Aurorasaurus reports and aurora tweets during high activity. On November 15-16 2014, the solar wind produced a steady stream of auroral activity. We witnessed a steady stream of reports every hour from 10:30pm EST to 9:30am EST from Alaska and Canada. With more Aurorasaurus users we can have more successful reporting events like this night in November and increase your chance for a notification of a sighting near you! (TIMESTAMP: 14:10)

-Like our Facebook page (fb.com/aurorasaurus.org) and follow us on Twitter (@TweetAurora) for space weather updates and links to informational, low-jargon blog posts

QUESTIONS ASKED DURING HANGOUT

Q: Where can I see the aurora from? (TIMESTAMP: 22:02)

A: It’s pretty hard to predict where you can see the aurora from. Unfortunately, no one can tell you with any accuracy that in a week’s time, you’ll be able to see the aurora from a certain location. That’s because the Sun is so far away and the events occurring from the Sun drive the movements and intensity of aurora. The particles take quite a long time to get to Earth and things happen and change in that time period. We use a satellite just upstream of Earth that gives about an hour’s notice. Using that we can predict how strong the aurora might be and where it might be visible from, but that’s still a coarse estimate. We really encourage you to sign up for Aurorasaurus, tell us your location, and we’ll be able to let you know when others near you have seen the aurora. We will also use your reported data to improve our models for the future.

Q: Can the aurora be seen in southern Ontario with a telescope? (TIMESTAMP: 23:33)

A: Sometimes, although the telescope isn’t the necessary component. What is more important is the auroral strength and if the auroral oval (the band of auroral activity) can be seen from further south. Look at the map on our website to see if the auroral oval passes over your area.

Q: How can I learn more about aurora? (TIMESTAMP: 25:10)

A: We have designed Aurorasaurus so you don’t need a PhD in space weather science to understand it. We try to post low jargon blog posts and our Aurorasaurus scientist network (our aurora experts located around the world) can respond to any questions you may have.

Q: Can I volunteer? (TIMESTAMP: 26:06)

A: As a citizen scientist, you volunteer your time and your information. You can report auroras via our website, phone app, or Twitter and verify those sightings. Additionally, we’re always interested in people who may want to help out with the project itself whether you want to help out with the science, education, communications, or computer science aspects. You can get in touch at aurorasaurus.info@gmail.com.

Q: What’s the space weather forecast for this week? (26:46)

A: At the moment, it looks pretty quiet, but you can keep an eye on our website Aurorasaurus.org for updates. The Space Weather Prediction Center website from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is also a great resource.

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