Dunedin Aurora

A Citizen Science Magnetic Observatory located in Dunedin, New Zealand.

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Welcome to Dunedin Aurora!

Dunedin Aurora is a citizen science magnetic observatory located in Dunedin, New Zealand. Our main objective is to provide near real-time space weather data to allow people to know if an aurora is likely to be happening!

Unlike 99% of other space weather sites, we run our own magnetic sensors, so we know what is going on. If NOAA or NASA crashes, we keep going!

Main Dashboard

The dashboard at Dunedin Aurora tracks the Earth's magnetic field, and how it is influenced by the solar wind. The solar wind is hot, fast moving plasma that constantly streams from the Sun. When this plasma interacts with the Earth's magnetic field it can cause displays of the aurora. The dashboard presents a simple view of space weather conditions and more accurate information can be found by clicking on the "Magnetograms" button in the menu.

The more orange and red you can see on the dashboard, the more active space weather is, and the more likely you are to see an aurora from southern New Zealand.

Master Display

The master display is a simple picture of the space environment near Earth. Surrounding the globe are a number of layers that will become visible and change colour depending on what is happening.

Globe

The globe shows conditions "on the ground". The circle on the globe represents magnetic conditions observed at Dunedin Aurora.

Bz

This label shows information on the Earth's magnetic field as measured in space. When Bz is negative there's a much higher chance that highly charged particles in the solar wind will be funnelled by the Earth's magnetic field to the north and south poles and cause an aurora.

Ion

This layer shows the conditions of the ionosphere. The ionosphere is the part of the atmosphere that gets charged every day by solar radiation. The ionosphere can become turbulent when hit by space weather and this affects signals from satellites. At Dunedin Aurora we monitor signals from GPS satellites to track this turbulence.

Mag

THis layer shows the state of the magnetic field from the position of the GOES 16 satellite in geosynchronous orbit above Earth.

Density

This layer shows the density of the solar wind as it passes by the DISCOVR satellite. An increase in density can be seen as a "shock wave" that warns of approaching blobs of solar wind.

Solar Wind Speed

High solar wind speeds are the main drivers of space weather. Wind speeds over 500km/s can lead to an aurora. The bar for solar wind speed will appear once solar wind speeds are over 400km/s.

Horizontal Bar charts

The three charts provide information on magnetic conditions for the last 24 hours. The magnetometer charts show how active the magnetic field is. More activity means increased chance of an aurora. We show this activity in relation to a typical calm day, so the bigger the bars, the more active conditions are.

We don't try to calculate the K-index at Dunedin Aurora as the K-index is for activity in 3 hour chunks. Among it's problems is that it's not sensitive to quick and sudden changes in space weather conditions, or a single spike in readings can imply a whole three hour period of auroral activity.

The chart for the IMF (Interplanetary Magnetic Field) is useful as strongly negative values correlate with auroral displays.

Threshold Values for Colours

colour ⇒ none green orange red
Globe (green) Background levels. Minor activity Moderate activity. Highly active.
Ion (< 2 sigma) Very calm. (>2 sigma) Minor disturbance. (>4 sigma) Moderate disturbance. (6 sigma +) Major disturbance.
Magnetometer (GOES 16)   Minor activity Moderate activity. Highly active.
Solar wind Density Less than 10p/cm3 Over 10p/cm3 Over 20p/cm3 Over 40p/cm3
Solar wind speed Under 400km/s over 400km/s Over 500km/s Over 600km/s.