How To – never miss the northern lights

Arduino Science
How To – never miss the northern lights


Weather, traffic, news reports, etc – there’s a lot of important (and often stressful) information readily available through modern devices. Might be nice to get an update telling you it’s time to go outside and stare at a beautiful sky –

For years I have struggled to find a good way of alerting me to Northern Lights activity. I have tried email alerts and real-time monitoring software. Nothing worked well and I would regularly miss good displays.

Enter the Costello Geomagnetic Activity Index. Simply put, this is a prediction of auroral activity. It is pretty reliable and gives about an hour’s notice of northern lights activity. The problem is, of course, you have to keep checking the web page to catch any jump in the Index.

What we will build is a visual representation (an LED display) of the current level of auroral activity. The build consists of three main parts: a PHP Web scraping script, a Processing script, and an Arduino script. The LED lights green for low activity, blue for moderate, red for high activity and white for GET OUTSIDE NOW!

That RGB LED even makes an old clock look a bit magical to boot. – Spectrographic Auroral Indicator

In the Maker Shed:
Blinkm Row
BlinkM – Smart LED

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