Aurorasaurus received a rush of reports as an intense burst of aurorae appeared in the night skies around the world. The News Miner reported that Aurorasaurus doubled its membership after the solar storm. New Science reported that Aurorasaurus received 160 direct reports and 250 confirmed tweets during the storm.
What does it mean for amateurs? The scientists behind Aurorasaurus believe the public can help improve forecasts of space weather - and the National Science Foundation awarded them $1 million to make it happen.
Professional space weather monitoring is a patchwork of ground and space-based observatories. Even though they can spot a coronal mass ejection when it leaves the Sun, the effects here on Earth are hard to predict. As the CME's charged particles slam into Earth's magnetic field, they generate a geomagnetic storm cascades through the atmosphere. Ionized gas in the upper atmosphere create shifting, glowing clouds. It's pretty but it can play havoc with spacecraft in orbit and power grids on the ground. The Aurorasaurus science team explained in the NSF abstract:
They are making it as easy as possible to send in your reports. Go to the website, or use the smartphone app (iOS or Android), or tweet the news to @tweetAurora. Your observations can help scientists connect the dots between the science data and the extreme effects of space weather here on Earth.
Read these other articles about aurorae and amateurs:
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