On a recent trip to Iceland in January, one of the main purposes of my traveling to Iceland again was to [hopefully] see the famed Aurora Borealis [Northern Lights]. As there is always a bit of luck involved in seeing the aurora, I looked for an easy way to get the latest information on aurora forecasts to understand my chances of seeing it and plan my trip accordingly.
In the iTunes store, I found “Aurora Iceland.” Created by Bjarni Ivarsson [@mrbiin on Twitter], this app [$1.99] uses a simple interface to give you your chances of seeing the aurora and the times of the night when you are most likely to see it. The forecast is based on multiple factors including planetary magnetic activity, local weather conditions, and lunar conditions.
This app is specific to Iceland. The landing screen lists most all [if not all – over 70 locations] of the key cities and towns in Iceland, and provides a zero to five star ranking scale for each location based on the chances of seeing the aurora [zero = no chance, five = you are in luck!]. When you select an individual city or town, the next screen gives an hour-by-hour forecast for the chosen location, so you know, for example, that between 2:00am and 3:00am you have the best chance of seeing the aurora. You can see “tonight” and “tomorrow night” at a glance. For example, in the screen shots above for Dalvik, your best chance would be to watch for the aurora tonight between midnight and 2:00am, and sleep tomorrow night as you have no chance of seeing it.
With the aid of this app, I was able to catch a twenty minute aurora show in the town of Hveragerði on a night when there was not much aurora activity. I was only able to do this because, from looking at the app, I knew that my best chances of seeing the aurora were between midnight and 1:00am – which was exactly when I saw the aurora. Thanks Bjarni!
The app requires iOS 7.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.