Past Meetup

Light Watch (Or, "Aurora Borealis Anywhere, Any Time") (Rating: Fun+)

This Meetup is past

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Details

This will be a three-night trip to some place such as Fairbanks, AK, Reykjavic, Iceland, or Tromso, Norway, in search of the northern lights, sometime between March 15th and April 15th, a period when sightings are more common. In order to maximize our chances of sightings, we will use the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) space weather forecasts and other data for choosing both our destination and the exact dates of the trip.

The event will consist of two phases (or vigils), with all team members participating in the activities based on a plan and a schedule to be developed over the next few months.

Vigil 1: The Selection. Starting March 12th or so, until April 12th, the team will monitor closely the three-day space weather forecast (updated by NOAA every three hours). Team will also closely monitor the possible flights to each destination (from a set previously selected), and the places to stay in each destination (motels and such). As soon as the chances of sightings exceed the threshold previously agreed on, the team will immediately book their tickets, and catch flights to the selected destination.

Vigil 2: Once on site, team members will take turns to closely monitor the 30-minute local Aurora forecast, as well as the skies at night, and alert others upon the first sightings of the lights. During daylight hours, the team will explore as much of the local sights as possible, depending on the cold, the weather, and other local conditions. For instance, if the destination is Fairbanks, Denali National Park would be within range, as would the Arctic circle along the Dalton Highway.

A few items to note:

(1) The nature of the pursuit is such that sightings cannot be guaranteed. (2) At this time of the year we should expect some brutally cold temperatures. Experiencing such temperatures is part of the adventure.
(3) People would be expected to book their tickets and make travel plans on very short notice (possibly less than 24 hours).
(4) Everyone pays their own expenses; common expenses such as car rentals, gas, parking, and tolls will be split equally. Room sharing arrangements can be worked out between team members.
(5) This will be a collaborative planning effort. Ideas welcome.

Here are a couple of sites for more information including current forecasts:

https://www.swpc.noaa.gov/products/3-day-geomagnetic-forecast
https://www.swpc.noaa.gov/products/aurora-30-minute-forecast