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When and where can I see the Aurora?

To determine if the aurora will be visible from your area, follow these steps for using the auroral forecast website.

Step 1. Check the level of activity necessary for your area

First read the section on Interpreting the Auroral Forecast and select a map appropriate for your area. You will see your map displayed for each of the 10 forecast levels (0 to 9). Find the levels where your location is inside the green line. For example, on the North America map, Chicago requires a 3 to see the aurora on the northern horizon and at least a 5 to see it overhead.

Step 2. Check activity predicted for the day of interest.

Return to the main forecast for the day of interest. Select a map that is appropriate for your area. If your location is within the green line on the equatorward side of the green and white band around the pole, you may plan on aurora watching that night.

Step 3. Check the short-term forecast.

To see if the aurora will be visible from your location within the next hour, look at the "short term forecast" on the right-hand side of the display. This is a continually updated forecast, based on an actual satellite measurement, so if it shows an index 5 and you are in Seattle, Chicago, New York City, Halifax, or anywhere else under the green and white band, then there is aurora overhead. If the sun is down, go outside, as far away from city lights as you can get with a view of the poleward horizon, and look for it. It will be most active between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.

Step 4. Check the Current Auroral Activity

The current auroral activity from the NOAA/POES satellite is also available on the NOAA Space Weather forecast site. Check there to see where there is aurora at the moment.

Step 5. Plan ahead

To plan a trip to the auroral zone, check the Traveler’s Guide to the Aurora for when and where to travel.