Museum

Aurora Observation

When Are the Northern Lights Visible in Your Area
Engage in a learning technique based in traditional ways of knowing and collect data to investigate a scientific question. Take a survey of community members: When does the aurora happens in your area? What colors do you see? What is a good place to see them? Bring your answers back to your group and graph everyone's answers together to look for trends in the data! Learn how Earth’s rotation, tilt and orbit affect cause observable patterns and affect when the aurora is visible. Download an activity guide with surveys to use and graphs to fill in with your group's data. This activity comes from the Geophysical Institute's Cultural Connections Elementary School Kit.

Be An Aurora Forecaster!
Scientists predict when the northern lights are likely to occur by monitoring solar activity. They look at the strength, density and speed of solar wind coming toward Earth and use the distance from Earth to the Sun to calculate when those particles will excite our atmosphere and cause an aurora display. This downloadable activity guide will walk you through the steps to predict a particularly powerful solar storm from a coronal mass ejection on the Sun. This activity comes from the Geophysical Institute's Cultural Connections Middle School Kit and is appropriate for Middle School learners and older.

Visit the Geophysical Institute Aurora Forecast website to find out if the aurora oval is likely to be overhead tonight.


This project was funded under NASA Heliophysics Education Consortium cooperative agreement NNX16AL65A. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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