Twice in my big long life I’ve seen the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis. Only Twice. I’d sure love to see them more. I know it is visible from where I live more often than that and nothing annoys me more than waking up and seeing pictures that people took the night before while I was sleeping or completely oblivious.
I recently found a great website that allows you to check and see if they may be visible in the near future from your location. It’s a four step process. I’ll walk you through it here and then post the link at the bottom so you can check it out in more detail. I know that I have readers for my blog all around the world so the neat thing is that while I may not be able to see it one night, some friends on the other side of the world may be getting a great show!
Step 1: Determine the KP number (which is the geomagnetic activity level) for your location and then check the real-time forecast (http://www.softservenews.com/Aurora.htm) to see what the KP predictions are for the next hour. If the prediction is greater or equal to your KP number, that means you have a possibility of seeing them.
Checking the map below where I live, the KP number looks like it’s about a 6.
Step 2: Check the ovation map (not ovulation, ovation). The Kp number gives nice info on how large the storm is, but the Ovation map does a better job of telling you if you can actually see it. It gives a 30 to 40 minute forecast of the size of the aurora along with a color-coded probability of seeing the aurora over various spots on the Earth. You can click on the picture below for real-time forecast, and your best chances of seeing it are if it is yellow, orange or red.
Step 3: check the weather. If it is cloudy or overcast the northern lights won’t be visible since they occur in the upper atmosphere.
Step 4: Find a dark place away from city lights.
It’s that easy folks. I plan to be checking this out throughout the summer and fall, especially while I’m awake anyways in pain. Might as well check to make sure I’m not missing a pretty show. I realize this doesn’t actually cure insomnia (or painsomnia), but it sure seems like a nice happy distraction!
Also I think there is an option to pay for customized alerts for your location, but I’m not as much about paying for something I can just as easily look up.
As promised, here’s the link explaining the steps in more detail and more science-y words if you are interested: