Watch the northern lights online
SKYWATCHERS CAN NOW TURN their gaze to a computer for a glimpse of the northern lights – the Canadian Space Agency has launched an online observatory streaming the aurora borealis live from webcams near the Arctic Circle.
Auroras occur when charged particles from the Sun collide with gases in Earth’s upper atmosphere, resulting in a ribbon of lights dancing across the night sky.
The launch of the website – found at here at www.asc-csa.gc.ca/auroramax – coincides with the beginning of aurora season in northern Canada, which generally begins in late August or early September and ends in May. In addition to nightly broadcasts of the aurora, the website also explains the science behind the phenomenon, offers tips for seeing and photographing auroras, and has archived videos.
Look in ‘Featured Videos’ under the ‘Gallery’ section to find high-speed footage of the ten best nights so far.
“Armchair skywatchers everywhere can now discover the wonder of the northern lights live on their home computer screen,” says Steve MacLean president of the Canadian Space Agency. “We hope that watching the dance of the northern lights will make you curious about the science of the sky and the relationship we have with our own star, the Sun.”
Aurora enthusiasts will be able to catch the most frequent and intense auroras when the Sun reaches the most active period of its 11-year cycle, called solar maximum, in 2013.