Northern lights webcam

2010-09-22

in Canada, Films and movies, Geek stuff, Internet matters, Science, The outdoors

The Canadian Space Agency has set up a website that allows the live viewing of the northern lights from Yellowknife, in the Northwest Territories. You can watch live during the appropriate hours, as well as watch the previous night’s video in time lapse and selected videos from especially active nights.

The videos are pretty small and not super high resolution. The ‘AuroraMAX’ site would probably benefit from the addition of some large still photos. The sun’s 11-year cycle of activity is expected to peak in 2013, and the site has a mandate to carry on until then. The site doesn’t say what kind of equipment is being used, but it seems to be a fisheye lens on either a video camera or dSLR.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan February 17, 2011 at 7:55 pm

I shouldn’t get so many Google hits for this topic… The people at the Canadian Space Agency should probably work on the degree to which their website is optimized for Google…

. February 23, 2011 at 10:10 pm

A blast of plasma from the sun hit the Earth overnight, creating a brilliant display of lights across the skies of Northern Canada.

An online replay of the celestial show, recorded by the AuroraMAX webcam, shows curtains of green light rippling across the sky over Yellowknife. The site records the aurora each night as part of an educational and outreach program supported by the Canadian Space Agency, the University of Calgary, Astronomy North and the City of Yellowknife.
What causes the aurora?

The northern lights or aurora borealis are caused by the interaction of charged particles from the sun with the Earth’s magnetic field. That excites oxygen and nitrogen in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and causes them to light up.

The aurora is usually best seen in the Arctic and Antarctic because that is the location of the poles for Earth’s magnetic field.

The lights were the result of a geomagnetic storm caused by three solar flares that blasted toward Earth from the sun between Feb. 13 and Feb. 15, including what NASA called the largest solar flare in four years. The three apparently merged before their arrival, reported the Space Weather Prediction Center run by the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

“What might have been three hits … seems to have merged to be just one interplanetary shock,” its website said.

. January 24, 2012 at 7:50 pm

USask Aurora Webcam

The aurora camera is programmed to start recording during sunset and stop recording as the sun rises. When the camera is running, the current image will be automatically updated every minute.

You can see the sun set or rise for about 30 minutes at the start or end of the image sequence. North is toward the top of the image, and the Saskatoon lights (to the East) are on the right edge of the image. The image times are GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), which is always 6 hours ahead of Saskatoon time. For example, 19:00 GMT corresponds to 1 p.m. (13:00 CST) in Saskatoon.

. January 29, 2012 at 8:59 pm
. February 22, 2012 at 3:59 pm

NASA’s dazzling northern lights launch aims to study ‘space weather’

The two-stage suborbital rocket was part of a NASA-funded study into how the northern lights can affect signals from GPS satellites and other spacecraft.

A team of scientists launched a small rocket into an eye-popping northern lights display Saturday (Feb. 18) in an attempt to discover what makes auroras tick.

The two-stage suborbital rocket blasted off from the Poker Flat Research Range just north of Fairbanks, Alaska, and reached a height of about 217 miles (349 kilometers) as part of a NASA-funded study into how the northern lights can affect signals from global positioning system (GPS) satellites and other spacecraft.

“We’re investigating what’s called space weather,” said the study’s lead investigator Steven Powell of Cornell University in a statement. “Space weather is caused by the charged particles that come from the sun and interact with the Earth’s magnetic field. We don’t directly feel those effects as humans, but our electronic systems do.”

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