For those interested in seeing the aurora whenever possible, this is the website
I try to keep an eye on for the earliest "heads up".
First, go to http://www.spacew.com/index.php,
and scroll down a little to the
"Auroral Activity Lights". If you are in Wisconsin, like myself, or straight east or west, you will be concerned with the "middle latitude" light.
People farther south, like Texas will be concerned with the "low latitude" light, and people in Canada and Alaska will want to watch the "high
latitude" light. If the light corresponding to your location is green, there is little to no activity, yellow is moderate (usually nothing to get excited about),
and red is strong activity.
From the Auroral Activity Lights, scroll down a little farther, to the "Forecast
Notes". Don't mind the technical sounding language. You should generally be able to tell if you can expect any activity in the next few days. They
mention "Coronal Mass Ejections", or "Solar Flares" a lot. This is what produces a "wave" of solor wind, which takes about three days to reach
the Earth (if its aimed at the Earth), and in turn, produces the auroral displays we see. They also refer to active regions, or "sunspots". These are
storms on the surface of the sun, that are capable of producing solar flares. They typicaly stay active for a few days or more. Each individual
solar flare produces a separate brief shower of auroral activity.
If the Auroral Activity Lights, or the Forecast Notes, indicate current, or upcoming
activity, you will want to proceed to the next step:
In the left colomn of links, look for the "Auroral Activity" links, and click on
"Real-Time Spacecraft Imagery". Scroll down near the bottom of the page until you come to an image like this (black background - greens
and reds will vary).
A full expaination is right below the image.
Below is what the image looked like on the night of November 7, 2004. Photos
from that night can be seen on my Aurora page.
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