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Aurora forecasts

11.12.2012

The northern lights, Aurora Borealis, are often seen in Iceland. This spectacle requires dark and partly clear skies. IMO now provides combined information on aurora activity, cloud cover, sunlight and moonlight, in order to give aurora forecasts.

Cloud cover forecast is given in a map where white means clear skies. Text forecast clarifies where in Iceland partly clear skies are most likely.

Click directly on a day or time of your choice below the map. The information on the page will update accordingly: Aurora forecast shows expected activity (small frame above right) at your selected date. Even low activity (2) can be beautiful and moderate (3) can be dazzling. Higher values are rare.

The timing of sunset, darkness, sunrise and moonrise is given as well. Daylight obscures the northern lights. Moonlight reduces their visibility somewhat but can improve the experience by delinating the landscape below. Clouds often obscure the northen lights completely.

So, make your choice carefully and good luck. If willing to travel within Iceland according to the combined forecast, you can increase the likelihood of a memorable event.

On space weather prediction

The Aurora is caused by variations in the magnetic field of the Earth, induced by a flux of charged particles called the solar wind. NOAA operates several satellites that monitor both the front and back side of the Sun and particle fluxes heading for Earth. When this is combined with numerical simulations, predictions can be made.

The solar wind consists mainly of protons and electrons travelling from the Sun at great speeds. It takes these particles about 1-3 days to reach Earth and therefore it is possible to predict major geomagnetic storms. Additionally, particle flux hits the ACE-satellite about one hour before it hits Earth and therefore it is possible to make quite reliable aurora forecasts within that timescale.

The aurora forecast of IMO is expressed on the Kp-index (0-9). The lowest numbers show up most of the time. The highest values are very rare. But even grade 2 can be beautiful and grade 3 can be dazzling. Further information can be found in these articles:





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