A trip to the far North doesn’t guarantee that you will see an Aurora Borealis – even though some places are better than others in Finland, and at certain times you can see them better than at others (late winter and early autumn are especially good).
Is there a way to get a Northern Lights forecast or predictions?
In the following image we can see the current extension and position of the Auroral Oval over the Northern hemisphere.
This image is composed thanks to multiple passes of the NOAA POES satellite. The red arrow points to midday (and therefore there is sunlight there: no chance to see any Northern Lights).
In this link you can see the latest image of the NOAA POES satellite.
The golden rule to get your Northern Lights forecast: the redder the color of the Auroral Oval, the higher the chance that an Aurora will occur. To be more certain, we should also look at the “n” factor on the image; it will tell us how much we can trust the data. If n is bigger than 2, the data is pretty accurate. If it is lower, you can take the Northern Lights forecast with a grain of salt.
How is the Northern Lights prediction calculated?
The activity level of the Northern Lights is calculated statistically, in accordance with the flux of particles that travel from the sun and that ultimately provoke this phenomenon to appear.
The satellite makes a pass over the Earth every 10 minutes and measures the strength of the particles flux. This measurement is superimposed over an Earth map and gives a pretty good estimate of the place, the extension and the intensity that is happening on the Auroral Oval. Thus, all this information is used as a Northern Lights forecast on the Northern Hemisphere.
If you’re planning to go this year to see the Northern Lights in Finland, a good place full of Aurora information is the National Research Center of Northern Lights in Sodankylä, in the Finnish Lapland. After all, if the Finns chose that place for their research facility, they know that a lot will happen there. Other great places with easy access to roads, towns and accommodation in that area are Luosto, Saariselkä, Rovaniemi or Oulu.
If you’re curious how the sky over Sodankylä is looking right now, here’s an updated photo of the sky in this region.
Have you used the NOAA POES Northern Lights forecast before? Do you use apps or other resources for forecasting Aurora Borealis? Let us know in the comments below.