Best Northern Lights Tracking Apps for iOS and Android

Northern lights apps

A powerful geomagnetic storm has brought the Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, to southern parts of Canada that typically would not see them, such as the coastal areas of B.C around Vancouver and Victoria.

The Northern Lights have been seen down in the U.S. as far south as Florida by some, so the past couple of days has resulted in some great viewing of the colourful lights in the dark sky. Hey, what a great way to save you a trip to the North Pole to see these lights.

Proximity to the North Magnetic Pole significantly improves the likelihood of witnessing the Northern Lights. But this geomagnetic storm has changed that for those further south.

Typically, the aurora becomes visible a few hours post-sunset, provided the sky is clear, with the intensity peaking around midnight (time for an afternoon coffee so you can stay up past your bed time).

Your best bet is to find a viewing area that has minimal light pollution from street lights, away from the city. Some local beaches and mountain tops have seen some insane traffic jams with people venturing out to see the Northern Lights, so they can share them on Facebook and Instagram.

The visibility of the Northern Lights depends on several factors, including solar wind strength, cloud cover, and atmospheric conditions. The key metrics to monitor are the Kp index and Bz values. The Kp index, which ranges from 0 to 9, measures aurora activity.

A Kp level of at least 5 is typically necessary for viewing the lights at lower latitudes, such as in the continental U.S., with higher values increasing the likelihood of a vivid display.

The Bz value indicates the interaction strength between solar winds and Earth’s magnetic field. A negative Bz suggests better conditions for observing the aurora.

There are some Northern Lights tracking apps that will send you push notifications based on your location to tell you when to look up to the skies.

Here are some worthy ones worth checking out according to the interwebs. They are either free or include some in-app purchases to unlock bonus features.

Aurora Forecast

Great maps, real time updates and push alerts, plus predictions on when you’ll have the best chance to see the Northern Lights. Download links below:

Northern Light Aurora Forecast

This app gives you short and long term forecasts for the next hour, plus weather conditions to improve your chances of seeing the Northern Lights. Download links below:

Be sure to stabilize your iPhone for your night mode shots, which are long exposures. Your camera will pick up the lights better than your eyes, so snap a picture to see what’s happening up there.

You can also sign up for email alerts from the University of Alberta’s Aurora Watch website. Another way to track the Northern Lights locally is to follow your local Facebook community groups as people are sharing info in real-time as well.

What are your favourite Northern Lights apps to use? There’s still another chance to see the Northern Lights on Sunday night heading into Monday morning it seems. Good luck!

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