You can send an observation about northern ligths / aurora borealis by filling out this form.

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When did you see or photograph this phenomenon?

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    Please enter here the date and time when you first saw the phenomenon in the sky. The date can also be chosen from the calendar icon next to this. The date and time should be given according to the local time of the observation location.

    If you are not sure of the time you saw the phenomenon, we ask you to give us the time you think is the most likely, meaning your so called best guess. In this case, we would like you to tell more about the uncertainty surrounding the time in the free-form text -field meaning the observation strory.

    If your observation is about a celestial body taken with long exposure, which may have been even been exposed on several different nights, please give us the latest time of exposure.

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    Phenomenon still visible • was visible 30 min ago • was visible 1 h ago
Observation location

Where were you when you observerd the phenomenon?

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    by clicking the right location on the map.

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    When you click the map with your mouse, the system will automatically pick the coordinates of the place you have chosen and on land usually also the name of the place in question. 

    If your first click of the map hit the wrong place, you can move the location marker by clicking the map again. Zooming in on the map with the slider in the left-hand corner of the map or the mouse scroll wheel helps with making the placing more accurate.

    If for some reason you are not willing to give us your observation location too precisely, you can place the observation location´s icon on the map for example in the center of the nearest small populated area. Normally an accuracy of 1-3 kilometers is enough to inform about the observation place. 

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    We hope our users will first give us the observation location within 1-3 kilometers of accuracy, if possible, by clicking the right spot on the map. In this case, the observation location will automatically appear below within the accuracy of the municipality, if the observation was made on Finnish grounds.

    Google maps won´t recognize all foreign observation locations nor observations made at sea. In these cases we would like for you to type the observation location here. 

    You can also, instead of clicking the map directly, type out the observation location´s name within the municipality´s accuracy in the ""City/municipality"" -box. In that case, the system will place your observation in a random place in the center of the municipality in question. Regarding multiple observations, this is also a good enough precision.

    If you don´t know, which municipality your observation was made in, like for example, you were in a moving vehicle, we would like you to describe the location in free form. For example ""Between Kouvola and Mikkeli"" or ""In an airplane above the Baltic sea"".

    If you marked your location on the map, this information will be filled in automatically

Contact info
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    You can also mention other observers of your observation, if they are in the same observation location, have agreed to a shared observation and you announce their real names and email addresses.Only you as the main observer have the right to edit the observation and only you hold the copyright of the possible photos or drawn illustrations.

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    Please give your actual name in the form of your first and last name. Observations can´t be accepted if only initials or an incomplete name are given (e.g. K. Virtanen). If you don´t want your name to be visible on the internet in relation to your observation, you can remove the checkmark from the spot asking this. The spot is displayed on the next line.


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    Your aforementioned name will not be visible on the internet in relation to your observation and possible images, if you remove the checkmark here. If you remove the checkmark, on the observation´s name -field online will read ""Anynomous"". In that case your identity will remain only in Ursa´s and the phenomenon´s researchers´ knowledge. 

    Although we hope, that as many observer as possible allows their name to be displayed in relation to their observation and possible images. This way we can abide by the tradition of scientific observation which is seen as more important.


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    The email address should be in a working basic form without unnecessary texts, spaces or brackets. For example: james.t.kirk@gfail.com

    If you want to later fill in, fix something about or completely delete your observation, it is possible using the editing link. The editing link will be sent to the email address you have given us. Without a working email address the link won´t arrive to you.

  • Why do we ask for contact information?

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    Your contact information will not be publicly visible nor will it be given away for commercial purposes.

    For research purposes: in case of especially valuable observations, it is important, that researchers or Ursa can contact the observer to ask more details or pictures or to thank the observer for the valuable input.

    You can later search for your observations using your own email address in system´s search bar. It is easier to search for observations by using your email address instead of you name, because some observers may share the same name with you.   

    Many observers have wished for an option to later modify their observations. This is possible only by using the editing link sent to the email address you gave us. Without a working email address the link won´t reach you. 

Description
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    Choose the option that corresponds the phenonmenon you have seen.

    Auroras seen through breaks in the clouds

    Revontulia pilviraosta

    Auroras seen through breaks in the clouds

    Sometimes it is possible to see auroras through the separate breaks in the clouds. The identification of the forms is difficult in that case.

    Diffuse glow

    Revontuliharso

    Aurora veil

    Almost homogenous aurora glow covering part of the sky. Usually the veil is faint.

    Quiet aurora arc

    Rauhallinen revontulikaari

    Quiet aurora arc

    Aurora arc is useally stable and its lower edge is not much folded, such as in bands.

    Quiet aurora band

    Rauhallinen revontulivyö

    Quiet aurora band

    Aurora bands are useally more folded, brighter and more active than arcs.

    Active aurora band

    Aktiivinen revontulivyö

    Active aurora band

    When the aurora band begins to change in shape quickly, it is a active band.

     

    Aurora rays

    Revontulisäteitä

    Aurora rays

    Aurora rays are pillar-shaped forms. NB! If the only visible aurora forms are rays, check if these are not halo pillars from the artificial light sources

    Half-sky auroras

    Yli puoli taivasta revontulia

    Half-sky aurora display

    An occasion, where the auroras reach the zenith and cover over half of the sky.

    All-sky aurora

    All sky aurora

    All-sky aurora display

    When almost the whole sky is coverde by auroras, this is an all-sky display.


  • Can only be seen in photos

    The most dim auroras cannot be seen by the bare eyes, but can be seen in photos

    Very dim auroras

    Brightness of the auroral area is close to that of the brightness of the Milky Way.

    Dim auroras

    Brightness of the auroras are comparable to the cirrus clouds illuminated by the moon.

    Bright auroras

    Brightness of the auroras are comparable to the cumulus clouds illuminated by the moon.

    Very bright auroras

    Very bright auroras will even create shadows like the full moon.


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    Here you can type the name of the astronomical association which you are a member of. If you belong to more than one association, we ask you to give us the name of the association which is the most important to you havaintotoiminnassa.  

    The largest astronomical association in Finland, The astronomical association Ursa ry with its good 15 000 members is divided into area specific teams here. The teams are ""Ursa (Southern Finland)"", ""Ursa (Helsinki)"", ""Ursa (Eastern Finland)"", ""Ursa (Western Finland)"" and ""Ursa (Northern Finland)"". The Oulu and Lapland provinces belong to the Northern Finland team´s area. All municipalities in the metropolitan area, except Helsinki, are also part of the Southern Finland team´s area.      


  • We hope that you will tell about seeing the phenomenon in free form. If you are busy, even a one or two sentence long description of the phenomenon will help to understand, what you saw. (In case you want to input technical information, they have their own place)

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    Here you can tell in free form about the phenomenon and seeing it. You have a room of 1200 characters for that. For example how you spotted the phenomenon? How did it look like? (etc).

    If you are not already familiar with celestial bodies/atmospheric phenomena, please try to describe the phenomenon diversely.  

    In case you are a specialist in the field we hope you will write in a way that the observation story is at least for the most part comprehensible to new people interested about the subject. It is recommended to avoid terms, slang and abbreviations that only few can understand.  

    If you decide to write an observation story with at least a few sentences of length here and attach at least one image to your observation, the observation will be published on the observation system´s Images and stories page.

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  • You can attach 1-8 images or videos of the phenomenon (jpg, gif, png or mp4). The system will not receive files containing more than 50 megabytes. We hope, that you favor images or videos with no more than 15 Mb.

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    You can attach at most 8 images. We hope you will attach several images only if they showcase the different sides or stages of the phenomenon or otherwise fulfill eachother. If your images are practically fully identical, we ask you to only attach the best photo to your observation.

    The system automatically shows large images in a size where the longest side of the image (either horizontal or vertical) is 1000 pixels long.  

    The size limit of files is 50 megabytes. Taivaanvahti will not accept larger images. It is recommended to favor pictures that are at most the size of 15 Mb.

    The allowed image file formats are jpg, jpeg, gif ja png. The system will not accept for example tif images or pdf files.

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    By crossing this off you´re asking the administration´s experts to inspect the observation´s phenomenon identifications particularly carefully and/or critically before the observation is published.

    In case something problematic is detected regarding the identifications, the observation won´t be published before the administration has fixed the identifications and/or you have been contacted.   

Additional information
Observed aurora forms

If you are not familiar with these phenomena, take a look at the descriptions in the info-buttons. The moderetors will be able to later correct the identifications should that be necessary.

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ARC The arcs are wider than the bands and do not fold as strongly. The arcs are normally neither very bright nor active.

The arc is probably the most common form of aurora. When aurora show is a calm arc in the low northern sky it often doesn’t evolve to anything more during night. In more active shows the arc is often the first form to appear and the last to disappear.

The lower edge of the arc is usually sharp but the upper edge can gradually blend into the background sky. As activity increases rays and folds normally develop, and the arcs turn gradually into bands.

An aurora arc runs across the picture. Vertical shapes are rays. Photo by Atacan Ergin.

Aurora Arc. Photo by Mauri Korpi.

Aurora Arc. Photo by Anna-Liisa Sarajärvi.

Aurora Arc. Photo by Matti Asumalahti.


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CoronaA corona is a hand fan shaped structure, it usually forms south of the observer's zenith, most commonly consisting of rays or bands. The corona is usually the most beautiful part of the aurora show. It is bright and active, but on the other hand also short-lived.

Aurora corona. Photo by Anna-Liisa Sarajärvi.

Aurora corona. Photo by Merja Ruotsalainen.

Corona formed from bands. Photo by Markku Ruonala.

Aurora corona. Photo by Tapio Koski.


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Bands are usually narrower, more twisty at the bottom, brighter, and more active than arches. Bands usually develop from arches.

Bands can form J and U shapes, sometimes even full spirals. The corona can also arise from bands. Bands are a fairly common form of aurora.

Aurora band. Photo by Merja Ruotsalainen.

Aurora band. Photo by Matias Takala.

Aurora band. Photo by Lea Rahtu-Korpela.

Aurora bands. Photo by Lauri Koivuluoma.

Aurora band. Photo by Matias Takala.


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The raysare parallel to the lines of force of the magnetic field, i.e. quite vertical, usually less than one degree thick light streaks. The rays can occur alone or in connection with other shapes, mainly with arcs and bands. Short rays are usually brightest at the bottom but dim quickly. The longest rays, even extending almost from the horizon to the zenith, are usually uniformly bright and quite calm, and unlike the shorter rays, most often occur in groups of a few rays or alone. Rays, like bands, are a very typical form of aurora.

Artificial light pillars, which are a halo phenomenon visible in ice mist, can sometimes be very similar to the rays of aurora. Confusion is possible especially when the lamps that cause the artificial light pillars are far away and not visible behind buildings or the forest. The nature of the phenomenon is clear at least from the photographs.

Rays. Picture of Tom Eklund.

Rays. Photo by Mika Puurula.

Two beams rise from the aurora veil. Photo by Anssi Mäntylä.

Two radial bands. Show Jani Lauanne.

Radial band and veil. Photo by Jussi Alanenpää.

Two rays. Photo by Aki Taavitsainen.

It may be possible to confuse such rays with artificial light columns. Compare the image below. Picture of Tom Eklund.

There is no aurora in this image, but all the light poles - including the wide and diffuse bar seen at the top left - are artificial light pillars born of ice mist. Photo by Sami Jumppanen.

Aurora and artificial light pillars. All the radial shapes in the picture above are probably artificial light pillars that coincide appropriately with the aurora band. In the image below, the aurora band has shifted and does not overlap with the pillars produced by the orange bulbs. There is no orange in auroras. Photo by Katariina Roiha


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Veil
Veil is the most bland and very common form of aurora. It usually covers its homogeneous dim glow over a wide area of the sky at once. Most often, the veil is seen in the calmer and quiet phase of the night after the aurora maximum as a background for other forms. The veil can also occur alone and in that case it will be quite difficult to reliably identify as an aurora, especially at a observation site which has a lot of light pollution.

A similar glow of light can also be caused by airborne moisture, smoke, or a very thin layer of clouds that reflects the light that hits them. However, clouds can also be used to identify veil, especially if the middle or upper cloud appears dark against a lighter background, then it is very likely to be aurora veil if the brightness of the background sky is not due to the rising or falling Moon or Sun. When photographing, very long exposure times usually reveal the green colour of the veil auroras.

Veil and rays. Photo by Esa Palmi.
 

Red aurora veil. Photo by Marko Mikkilä.

 

Veil. Photo by Milla Myllymaa.

 

Aurora veil that changes color from green at the lower edge through purple to blue at the top. Photo by Jaakko Hatanpää.

 

Dim green veil. Photo by Jarmo Leskinen.

 

Radial aurora band surrounded by veil. Photo by Jussi Alanenpää.


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Form not identifiable
Sometimes auroras have to be observed in such poor conditions that it is not possible to reliably identify the shape even if for example the structure and conditions could be recognized. Such a situation could be the outcome of for example alight background sky, cloud cover or a covered horizon.


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The Stable Auroral Red arcs (SAR arcs)  are usually clearly distanced to the south from the aurora oval and is a very opaque and normally red ribbon. In most cases SAR arcs are only visible in the photo or on the liveview screen of the SLR camera. Using a camera with very high sensitivity is the best method for capturing these faint arcs. The arch usually settles between east and west.

A stable red arc of aurora is a rare phenomenon. In some rare occasions, several SAR arcs may be simultaneously visible.

The first SAR arcs of the Skywarden were observed on nights between November 3-4. and 4-5. days in 2015 in the latitudes of central Finland.   

SAR
SAR arc photographed by Lasse Nurminen 2018. Observation of the Skywarden 79113.


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STEVE (Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement), Pink, radial aurora-like arc  . The STEVE arc is seen clearly separated from the main aurora arc of the northern sky. It forms a long and narrow west-east aligned, usually dim form. It does not belong to traditional auroras as a phenomenon, but may appear same time with them. Occasionally there may also be a green, "toothed" band called ”picket fence” at the bottom of Steve.  

Riku Talvio, STEVE
Photo by: Riku Talvio


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A picket fence is a green form of aurora (northern lights) with short vertical beams.

Picket fence often occurs under the purple-gray STEVE arc, but can also be an independent green radial arc.

In the picture, the board fence is shown in the upper right corner under the STEVE arch. Photo by Sirpa Pursiainen

The picket fens gets sometimes mixed up with normal green belt with rays. In Picket Fence, the individual rays are clearly separated from each other and the arc of the rays is clearly separated from the rest of the northern lights. The fences of the fence also do not form a single curtain extending up to the pole of the sky.

Picket fence can also occur independently without a STEVE arc. The picture shows very well how the Picket Fence is separated from the rest of the northern lights and does not expand upwards. Photo by John Andersen


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Dunes

The dunes are a dim and very rare shape that has so far been associated with the aurora visible in early evening.

Aurora dunes can be most easily confused to ribbons on lower clouds. In order to fill in the description of the phenomenon, a striped pattern formed by parallel lines must also appear in the aurora. The stripes are most easily recognizable right at the front edge of the aurora but they may also occur among the rest of the aurora.

The dune auroras are visible as a parallel striped float. Photo by Tapio Terenius

Raidallisen dyynilautan reunassa voi toisinaan olla voimakastakin aaltoilua.

There can sometimes be strong ripples at the edge of a striped dune float. The rippling of the edge of the dune float can vary from minor to large (pictured). Photo by Pirjo Koski



You can describe your observation equipment or other technical details here.

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If you want to, you can specify the observation equipmet or  phototechnical/processing information here. For that, you have 1200 characters at your disposal.

A telescope description can be stated for example like this: 127 mm reflecting telescope of 1300 mm focal length.

The photo information can be stated for example like this: Camera brand, 50 mm, f/2,8, ISO 100.


Colors with unaided eye and other features
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Paljain silmin valkoinen väri näkyy useimmiten himmeissä näytelmissä, kun silmä ei kykene erottamaan mitään varsinaista väriä. Harvoin kirkkaissa näytelmissä valkoinen väri voi myös syntyä sopivista vihreän, punaisen ja sinisen yhdistelmistä.


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Green, seen with the naked eye, is one the most common colors of the aurora. The green color is derived from atomic oxygen.

Green auroras. Lea Rahtu-Korpela.

Green auroras. Photo by Juha Ojanperä.


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Red lower edge visible with the naked eye. The bands which are starting to level up their activity and are green colored have quite often a narrow red lower edge. This is the most common form of red color which is derived from molecular nitrogen.

Aurora band with purple lower edge. Photo by Ilmo Kemppainen.

The low hanging brightest aurora band is colored red at the lower edge. Photo by Tero Ohranen.

Narrow purple reddish tones at the lower part of this aurora band. Photo by Merja Ruotsalainen.

Purple band at the bottom. Photo by Panu Lahtinen.


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Auroras which have red top part that can be seen with naked eye are most often observed in the bands and long rays. In this case the lower parts are usually green. If the upper parts are in sunlight, red may be stronger than green. This shade of red is due to the discharge of the excitation state of the atomic oxygen.

Aurora that shift to reddish towards the top. Photo by Karri Pasanen. 

Red top in a aurora band. Photo by Simo Aikioniemi.

Red at the top of the aurora. Picture of Tom Eklund.


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Completely dark red aurora is a very rare and strikingly handsome revelation. This phenomenon is also due to the discharge of an excitation state of an atomic oxygen.

Throughout red aurora. Photo by Tobias Billings.


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Yellow aurora color that can be seen with naked eye is a rarity that can arise from suitable combinations of green, red, and blue in bright shows.


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Clearly blue auroras can be seen only during the best aurora displays close to the maximum phase or soon after it. Sometimes blue auroras can be seen shortly after the sunset at the top part of the auroral shapes, specially rays. It is created by the mission of the ionized nitrogen molecules created by the suns radiation.

Strongly colored blue auroras. Photo by Jorma Mäntylä.

Blue top parts of the aurora. Image by Tom Eklund. 

Blue top parts of the aurora. Image by Jaakko Hatanpää.

Partly blue corona. Photo by Tapio Koski.

Faintly blue top parts of an aurora veil. Photo by Jaakko Hatanpää.


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Pulsating aurora. The brightness of the pulsating aurora usually varies rhythmically over a period that can be only a fraction of a second at its fastest, but can also be several minutes. Pulsing usually only occurs in(strong auroral conditions) higher quality shows , especially towards the end of them. However, the pulsation may be followed by yet another eruption. Sometimes the variation in brightness is at the same stage in the whole form, whereby the whole form "turns on and off" at the same time. Pulsation is also found in arches and bands, but above all in spots..


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Flaming. This rare subclass of aurora does not mean so much a single shape, but a large area in the sky. In the flaming aurora, bright waves that are sweeping upward towards the magnetic zenith emerge in the sky. Very rarely waves can wipe downwards. Bands are usually reported during flaming, less often spots.


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Flickering. This rare subclass refers to a situation where irregular variations in brightness occur in aurora, such as in fluttering flames.


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Streaming. In streaming aurora fast irregular variations in brightness occur along the horizontal dimension of homogeneous shapes.


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Usually in Lapland or even in the south you can see purple auroras in stronger aurora shows. The most common color in auroras along with green and red.


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