AuroraWatch UK FAQs

  • What are the alert types?
  • What do the number mean?
  • How do I interpret the plots?
  • Where is the best place to see the aurora?
  • Which direction should I look
  • Can I see aurora tonight?
  • When is a good time to see aurora?
  • How can I tell the difference between aurora and the clouds?
  • How do I change which alerts I receive?
  • But I don't live in Lancaster.
  • Aurora alerts for my region.
  • Alerts are received late
  • Why is it one hour behind?
  • I want an Aurora forecast
  • I want the Kp level
  • Will the alerts make a sound?
  • Today Widget
  • Can I view a larger plot?
  • Can I view websites in landscape?

We have four colour levels to indicate the disturbance level, which indicates how likely it is that you’ll see the aurora.

Green = No significant activity – Aurora is unlikely to be seen from anywhere in the UK.

Yellow = Minor Geomagnetic activity – Aurora is unlikely to be visible from the UK except perhaps the extreme north of Scotland.

Amber = Amber alert: possible aurora – Aurora is likely to be visible from Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland.

Red = Red alert: aurora likely – It is likely that the aurora will be visible from everywhere in the UK.

Generally, the higher the number, the higher the chance of seeing the aurora.

This shows exactly what the earth’s magnetic field is doing at the moment. The data is taken from a magnetometer near Aberdeen, Scotland.

Magnetic Field is measured in three different directions: the H-component is towards magnetic north; the D-component is along magnetic east-west; and the Z-component is perpendicular to the ground. The graph shows the H-component of the field as a black line, with a typical quiet day shown in blue. The difference between the current field and a quiet day is plotted as a colour-coded bar chart: green for quiet, orange for active and red for stormy.

The different stages of magnetic activity will all show up in the H-component. As a CME hits the magnetosphere, the compression of the magnetic field produces an increase in the field measured at ground level. This gives a characteristic rise in the field and is known as a Sudden Storm Commencement (SSC). Not all SSCs are followed by auroral activity, but it is a good early indicator. If the solar wind speed and IMF direction are favourable, the energy in the magnetosphere will gradually build up into a large storm, with the magnetic field decreasing and changing rapidly.

When geomagnetic conditions are very active aurora could be seen anywhere within the UK but generally the further north you are in the UK the better.

You will need to find a location which is dark, so that means away from street lighting. Otherwise you might consider going on holiday in the hope of seeing it.

North is normally the direction to look, but when the geomagnetic activity is high be aware that the aurora may be south of you, so check all directions.
Monitor the current activity for signs of high geomagnetic activity.
Aurora is not normally visible in the summer months as the nights are too light.

AuroraWatch UK will push alerts when aurora is likely to be visible in the UK.

Light reflected from the clouds is often orange, as that is the colour of many streetlights.

A better guide is that if you can see stars in a region of sky then you are not looking at cloud.

On very rare occasions it may be possible to see exceedingly bright aurorae through thin clouds.

By defult, this app will alert you when there are Minor disturbances or above.

If you only wish to receive Amber and above, or Red alerts, you can select these on the More screen.

More information is available in FAQs > What are the alert types.

Whilst the data shows that it was recorded in Lancaster, it is valid across the UK. This is simply the location of the usually active Magnetometer.

The alerts show where the Aurora is likely to be visible from.

Whilst the data shows that it was recorded in Lancaster, it is valid across the UK. This is simply the location of the usually active Magnetometer.

The alerts show where the Aurora is likely to be visible from.

Alerts are generated within 1 minute of the data being generated by AuroraWatch UK at Lancaster University.

Please be aware that times are shown in UTC, which is the same as GMT. So during British Summer Time (BST), the times will show 1 hour behind, however the data is live.

Further, if your device has poor connectivity and Apple are unable to deliver the alert immediately, it may be delayed. This is beyond our control.

Please be aware that times are shown in UTC, which is the same as GMT. So during British Summer Time (BST), whilst the times will show 1 hour behind, the data is still realtime and live. When BST is in force, the main screen shows that times appear one hour behind.

The service provided by AuroraWatch UK is a real time data service.

We only provide this data as it is more accurate.

The Kp level is a poor indicator for Aurora alerts.

Please see the following blog post from Dr Steve Marple at AuroraWatch UK for the reasons why.

When an alert is generated by AuroraWatch UK, a notification will appear and sound on your phone.

Please note that if you have your iPhone set to silent (i.e. silent during the night), the alert will deliver to your phone, but will not be heard, as the silencing of alerts is generic.

The Today Widget provides a quick look at the current Disturbance Level.

Tapping the information icon will launch the app.

To enable the Today Widget:-

1) Swipe downwards from the top of your screen to show the Today View.

2) Tap the Today View at the top if it is not already selected. (You can also swipe from left to right).

3) Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and tap Edit

4) Add the AuroraWatch UK Today View Widget to the Today View by tapping the green + button to the left of it.

5) You can arrange the order of Today Widgets by tapping and holding the three lines to the right of any active today widgets and dragging widgets up or down.

6) Tap Done at the top right of the screen.

Note: Today widget is only available in iOS 8.

Yes. When on the Hourly screen, simply rotate your iPhone to landscape.
Yes. Simply rotate your iPhone to landscape.

Please visit AuroraWatch UK for further information.

If you need further help, please contact us via the contact option within the app. This will include data which helps us when answering your question.Thanks.