The project’s aim is to create a highly accurate, easy-to-use real-time map of confirmed aurora sightings. The idea is that this will increase your chances of seeing the rare beautiful northern lights during the maximum of the solar cycle (2012-2014). It’s the first solar maximum with social media, and the chance to Tweet about aurora sightings is a powerful way to spread information. Backed by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), the project aims to build a predictive capability for the lights' visibility based on citizen scientists’ positive and negative sightings and through social media.
When citizen scientists are able to see the auroras (northern or southern lights), LANL researchers would like to know the observers’ locations so the researchers can map visibility for others to see. The aim of aurorasaurus is to help as many people as possible know when the aurora is visible in their neighborhood, accurately and in real-time. No scientific knowledge or jargon is required, just the ability to navigate the map and enter simple observations. If you went looking for aurora and weren’t able to see it, that is also valuable information.
LANL is also using volunteered geographic information for space science and computer science related research.