It’s a rare occurrence, but when you see it, there’s no mistaking it — aurora borealis, the northern lights. These shimmering, ghostly flashes of colour in the night sky represent one of nature’s greatest works of visual art. But are there ways to increase your odds of bearing witness to one of its eerily glowing skies?
A team of six American scientists has tackled this quandary head-on by launching Aurorasaurus, a website with a real-time map encouraging people to share the locations and times they either did, or did not, see the elusive lights.
The site features a grid of the world with pegs in various locations marking sightings. Citizen stargazers then enter very simple observations: "I saw the aurora" or "I did not see the aurora" and their location. Once the information is entered into the site, it's shared around the world to let people know in real-time when the aurora is visible in their area.
The glow of the aurora borealis is actually caused by collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth's atmosphere. With Aurorasaurus, your chances of seeing those lights has gone up.