Privacy Policy and Terms

User Agreement

This document describes what will happen to your contributions if you choose to contribute and what data we collect, how we use it and how we protect it. Your use of this Aurorasaurus Website or any of the information, products, or services offered on this Site is subject to these Terms of Use. We may modify these Terms at any time without prior notice to you by posting revised Terms on this Site. Your use of this Site constitutes your binding acceptance of these Terms, including any modifications.

Aurorasaurus firmly stands for active inclusivity, anti-racism, Indigenous data sovereignty, and accessibility as inherent human rights issues. We also support FAIR data practices. While the issues in these areas are longstanding and systemic, Aurorasaurus is committed to contributing to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility by taking actions to make our community and platform more welcoming. For more information, please read our statement on #Strike4BlackLives and see our social media policy and community guidelines. We welcome community participation and feedback as we work toward these goals. To take part in our monthly discussions on these topics, please email us at

What you agree to if you contribute to Aurorasaurus

A major goal for the Aurorasaurus project is for the resulting dataset (including photos) to be made available to the Aurorasaurus project researchers for use, modification and redistribution in order to further scientific research. Therefore, if you contribute to Aurorasaurus, you grant us and our collaborators permission to use your contributions however we like to further this goal, trusting us to be responsible with your data. However, you give us this permission non-exclusively, meaning that you yourself still own your contribution. We ask you to grant us these broad permissions, because they allow us to change the legal details by which we keep the data available; this may be necessary because the legal environment can change. You must not contribute data to Aurorasaurus that you do not own.

What you may do with Aurorasaurus data

You retain ownership of any contribution you make to Aurorasaurus, and any recorded interaction with the dataset associated with Aurorasaurus. You may use, distribute or modify your individual contribution in any way you like. However, you do not possess ownership of the dataset itself. This license does not apply to data about you, covered in the Privacy Policy.

Legal details

By submitting your contribution to Aurorasaurus, you agree to grant us a perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive, sub-licensable license to: use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, and exercise all copyright and publicity rights with respect to your contribution worldwide and/or to incorporate your contribution in other works in any media now known or later developed for the full term of any rights that may exist in your contribution.

If you do not want to grant to us the rights set out above, you must not submit data to the Aurorasaurus project.

By interacting with Aurorasaurus, you:

  • Warrant that your contribution contains only data that you have the right to make available for all the purposes specified above, is not defamatory, and does not infringe any law; and
  • Indemnify us against all legal fees, damages and other expenses that may be incurred by the NMC as a result of your breach of the above warranty; and
  • Waive any moral rights in your contribution for the purposes specified above.

How we use cookies

In some uses of our site, a cookie may be placed on your computer. A cookie is a small file that allows us to improve the quality of your visit to our websites by responding to you as an individual. The user can choose to accept or decline cookies. Most web browsers automatically accept cookies, but your browser settings can usually be modified to decline cookies if you prefer. However, if you choose to decline cookies from Aurorasaurus then functionality, including your ability to log-in and participate, may be impaired. Acceptance of the use of cookies is implied if you continue to access our website without adjusting your browser settings.

Privacy Policy

Aurorasaurus is an experimental platform operated by the New Mexico Consortium for studying space science, the design and theory of citizen science web platforms, and other topics (listed in detail below). This page describes how we keep your private data private and what will happen to the information you share with us, if you choose to participate.

The Aurorasaurus IRB has been reviewed by the University of New Mexico (UNM) Office of the IRB (OIRB) in 2017 with the determination of Not Human Subjects Research. If you have any questions, you may contact the UNM OIRB,, by sending email to, or calling 505-277-2644. If you have any questions regarding your participation please contact the Aurorasaurus project leads at

Data we collect

Identifying information

You do not have to register in order to use or contribute to Aurorasaurus. If you do register, we ask you to supply a username and electronic contact information such as an email address. Standard social media credentials are used so that we do not store any passwords. We will never tweet or post to Facebook on your behalf, though we may need to access that level of permission for other functions (notifications, for instance).

If you register and log in, your interactions with the site and data you enter will be associated with your username. If you use the site anonymously, these things will be associated with an anonymous identifier (essentially, a random number), and the same anonymous identifier will be used for each visit.


We collect observations of the aurora borealis (northern lights).


To accomplish our research, we need to monitor how people use the system. This includes, among other things, recording: which pages and user interface elements you view and use, when you log in, regions you view, forecasts shown to you, notifications you request.

Location information

You can enter location information into Aurorasaurus in various ways. For example, you might save a “home” location associated with your username, and each aurora observation you enter is associated with a location. Locations are entered as a text address (e.g., “1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, DC”) or locale (e.g., “Washington, DC”), by querying your browser or GPS sensors in your smartphone for your location, or by other means.

Except when analyzing logs, we do not collect or derive locations without your explicit approval. For example, you might enter the location into a text entry box yourself, or your browser might pop up a dialog asking if it can share your location with our website.

Before storing a location in our database, we first add to the location a random offset between zero and one kilometer. This offset is the same if you enter the same point again (for example, we might apply a one-way hash to the least significant digits of your latitude and longitude). In other words, given a location in our database, it is impossible (even for us, and even combined with other information we store) to determine the location that was originally entered, other than it is within one kilometer of the stored location. We do not store the text you enter into location fields.

There is one exception to the above feature. The only location that we store exactly as entered is the address you provide when registering for the purpose of notifying you when aurora is in your exact location. This address can be changed at any time under your user profile settings and is not displayed publicly on the site.

As part of log analysis, we may transform logged IP addresses into locations. In this case, we will compute locations in one of the following two ways: (a) as regions which we estimate contain a population of 10,000 or more people, or (b) using the same random offset technique explained above, but by 10 kilometers.

Public social media information

We collect Twitter data which is available to the public, using the Twitter Search API; in particular, this includes the text of tweets and the content of profiles. The “protected” setting in Twitter will prevent us from collecting a given users’ content. These tweets will be verified by members of the Aurorasaurus community. Though the tweets have been filtered for relevance, their content may not be suitable for all users and users are urged to apply discretion.

Removing your data

Contact us for data deletion requests at

On request, we can also hide your data from the public website and/or exclude it from our research.

When we will contact you

If you do not register, we will never contact you.

If you do register, we will contact you electronically, using media approved by you, in the following circumstances:

Some site features involve sending you personalized information. You must explicitly enable these features (i.e., opt in) in order to receive messages, and you can disable the features at any time.

Occasionally, we will send messages to you announcing new features, explaining changes to the system, notifying you of substantive changes to this privacy policy, or inviting you to participate in research studies or other special events. You can opt out of these emails; contact us to do so at

What is shared with third parties

Your username can be seen by the public in various contexts. Notably, your username is associated with any observations you enter while logged in, and others can view these observations.

Your contact information is not visible to others except as necessary to deliver messages. In some cases, this means it is visible to the public. For example, we might offer a facility for Aurorasaurus to contact you via publicly-visible means in a social media system, in which case your contact information would be part of that communication. We will clearly mark features which will reveal your contact information publicly, and they will not be used unless you opt in explicitly.

Observations you enter are available to the public, including their anonymized location and your username (if you were logged in).

Additionally, we share data as necessary to accomplish our research goals. Except as explained above, we do so only in ways which cannot be associated with you or your username. For example, we might use photos you upload as an illustration in a research paper, show your observations to another user as part of an experiment, publish statistics about the types of observations entered in different parts of the world, or use the observations you enter to compute an estimate of auroral visibility. We may also share your information with other researchers, but only in ways that guarantee your privacy as explained throughout this page. We may also be required by a court order to share information. Aside from the above, information is held as confidentially as possible within our secured computer systems.

How your data will be used

We will make use of your information to further scientific research in the following fields: Space and atmospheric science: the study of space, celestial bodies, cosmic particles and interactions, weather, space weather, geomagnetic activity, forecasting these things, and related topics; Citizen science and informal science education: the study of how average people can contribute to scientific understanding of the world; Human-computer interaction: the study of how computers and people can work together more efficiently; Collaborative computing: the study of how people can use computers and other technology to work together more effectively; Data mining: the study of how useful patterns can be automatically found in large data sets.

In particular, we may combine your data with other data sets to answer our questions. For example, we might compare aurora observations shared on Aurorasaurus to Wikipedia access logs for articles related to the aurora, or we might compare aurora observations to weather data from the National Weather Service. Because it is impractical to reliably contact all users when new studies arise, we will not do so. However, all new studies must be reviewed and approved by the Board before they begin. We will honor requests to use your data only for specific research topics, or to exclude it from certain topics. Please contact us with such requests at

Security measures

Members of the research team must pass all training required by the Board as well as review and understand our privacy policy and internal security guidelines before obtaining access to any data. We follow industry best practices to secure user data and prevent hacking. Access to our databases, logs, and other records are limited to members of the research group and system administration staff. Limited database access will be provided through an API to collaborators for the purposes of research, and re-serving reports, such as re-posting Aurorasaurus observations on a custom map. API access will not include any access to user account information beyond username associated with observations, as covered by these terms already. We cannot guarantee the confidentiality of email and other internet-based messaging systems, and the content and/or headers of messages may be retained indefinitely by us or by unknown parties. (This is simply the nature of such systems.) Accordingly, we do not collect data using these messaging systems. We do use these methods to send you notices, including predictions and other personalized information; any communication that contains personalized content will be sent only upon your request. We also offer such methods as a way for you to contact us with questions about the research and the website.

Special events

We occasionally run contests, conduct surveys, and/or implement special features for the purpose of our research. Different policies may apply to these “extras”, but participation is optional, and any differences (in particular, any anonymity protections different than above) apply only to those who choose to participate. Such differences will be clearly disclosed beforehand, and you will have the opportunity to review them before choosing. These different policies will also be reviewed and approved by the Board before any special event is initiated.

In Conclusion

Aurorasaurus believes that together, we can better inform people of the visibility of the Northern Lights and we thank you for your participation.


If you need assistance, please feel free to contact us at with any questions. “Leave a Reply” below is to post comments on this page, and is only periodically monitored.

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