After a slow start of this autumn’s aurora season, the upcoming weekend is looking good in the forecast. Both Icelandic weather and solar particle levels will be ideal on Friday night, thus late-night travellers are going to be rewarded with an extraordinary magnetic storm of northern lights. A new website called Auroraforecast.is makes it easy to find the perfect timing and location. We talked to co-founder Aníta Hafdís Björnsdóttir, to find out more about the perks of the site.
Together with Sævar Helgi Bragason, who is a renowned Icelandic astronomer, and her fellow paragliding instructor Róbert Bragason, Aníta created the website Auroraforecast.is, which makes it much easier for non-experts to understand the aurora forecast. Not only is it in an accessible format that gathers all information in one place, but it also provides a satellite image of Iceland, which is crucial in trying to find the best location, Anita explains.
When solar winds hit the earth’s atmosphere, northern lights form, but those winds actually play a minor part in the visibility of the aurora. “Earth weather is much more important,” Aníta says, “Observing the cloud-cover through the satellite image helps determine suitable locations.” In fact, the amount of solar particles colliding with the atmosphere can often be extraordinary but if clouds are blocking the view, the spectacle is rendered invisible from earth.
The website derives scientific data from reliable institutes such as the Icelandic Meteorology Office and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Anita and her colleagues are also experts in their field. With Sævar being a space weather specialist and the other two having years of experience teaching their paragliding students about northern lights, they are a good team when it comes to hunting for the aurora. The group is also considering making it into an app.
If you’re keen on seeing the aurora during your stay in Iceland, check out our Travel page. There are several options to go by bus or you can even hop onto a boat to make the experience extra magical.
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