Construction of an Aurora Camera in North Dakota to Aid in Citizen Science and Space Weather Applications (ePoster)

TitleConstruction of an Aurora Camera in North Dakota to Aid in Citizen Science and Space Weather Applications (ePoster)
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsLedvina, V, MacDonald, E, Barkhouse, W, Young, T
Conference NameHamSCI Workshop 2020
Date Published03/2020
Conference LocationScranton, PA

We will present plans for a new student‐built aurora camera integrated with a public university, local astronomy groups, and Aurorasaurus citizen science. Live aurora cameras are crucial tools for avid skywatchers, aurora chasers, and scientists.  Globally there are hundreds of cameras providing nowcast views of aurora strength, yet in low‐latitude areas, especially in the United States, the number of high‐quality, live aurora cameras is extremely limited.  The need for aurora camera coverage in mid‐latitudes is apparent; not only will it be another resource for amateur astronomers and aurora‐watching communities, but the analysis of many transient auroral phenomena such as substorms and STEVEs benefit from multiple geographical observations.  A north‐facing camera will be built near Inkster, North Dakota, on the Martens Observatory location (approximately 48.1oN), broadcasting a public live stream of the night sky while simultaneously offloading images to a storage server.  The Sony a7s2 mirrorless camera, a model employed by other live broadcasts such as the LiveAuroraNetwork, will be used in conjunction with a wide‐aperture lens for maximum light‐gathering ability.   The entire apparatus will be housed in a weatherproof enclosure and internet will be supplied on‐site.  The camera will be integrated with the University of North Dakota’s Astrophysics and Space Studies department and will be a resource for the local astronomy community, the Northern Sky Astronomical Society.  Working with Aurorasaurus, the aurora camera will “tweet” when an aurora is spotted and be shown on the Aurorasaurus auroral oval map along with other citizen scientist observations.  This aurora camera will be a valuable resource for citizen science and will aid scientists in attempting to unravel the mysteries of Earth’s magnetism.

Full Text