The Aurorasaurus team, led by Dr. Liz MacDonald, a space scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, has been busy with many collaborations recently. What is Aurorasaurus and what do they do? The Aurorasaurus team studies the northern lights or aurora borealis by gathering information through aurora related tweets and observations reported via the Aurorasaurus website or app. The research team uses this verified citizen scientist gathered data by comparing their location with the modeled auroral ovals.
Aurorasaurus hosted a virtual summer intern, Vincent Ledvina, a sophomore at the University of North Dakota. Vincent’s projects included communications and a North Dakota Dual Aurora Camera (NoDDAC). He worked with Aurorasaurus and Live Aurora Network on installing an all-sky camera and north-facing camera at Martens Observatory, owned by his university. The now installed NoDDAC camera integrates with Aurorasaurus, providing data from a mid-latitude area not currently well covered by aurora cameras. NoDDAC caught its first storm with dancing aurora last week! See more about this in the latest Aurorasaurus blog post.
Liz and Laura, the Aurorasaurus Project Manager, received their technician (entry-level) ham radio licenses last fall as part of auditing a class for teachers, grad students, and undergrads on The Physics of Ham Radio taught by Rice University professor Dr. Patricia Reiff, a NASA collaborator. Laura and another classmates, fifth grade teacher Connie Atkisson, realized the class did not have prior experience in college level physics. As they learned about the practice of amateur radio, Connie and Laura also discovered ways to make it easier. In the latest Aurorasaurus blog post, they introduce ham radio and provide resources for folks who have focused on other fields.
Aurorasaurus is hosting quarterly Journal Club sessions to help make classic aurora journal articles accessible to a public audience. These are recorded and uploaded to the Aurorasaurus YouTube channel.
Liz gave an interview for a July article in Quanta Magazine, “The Scientist Leading the World’s Aurora Hunters.”
Aurorasaurus has been hosting monthly discussions about anti-racism and accessibility for colleagues and members of the citizen science and aurora communities.
Aurorasaurus is the first citizen science project that aggregates sightings of the Northern and Southern Lights in order to improve real-time tracking and understanding of these beautiful phenomena. The Aurorasaurus project allows the public to enter their observations of aurora through a website, as well as on a mobile application platform, in order to better characterize their frequency, location, and visual characteristics.
To learn more about Aurorasaurus and aurora tracking see their webpage at https://www.aurorasaurus.org/.