In early 2016, the Geomagnetism team decided to install an experimental camera at the Eskdalemuir observatory to see if we could observe the Aurora Borealis during times of heightened geomagnetic activity. The aurora are caused by large electrical currents flowing in the ionosphere around 110km above our heads. These current systems are normally found in an oval around the magnetic pole at high latitudes (such as over Iceland), but during geomagnetic storms the oval expands southwards and can move to lower latitudes.
When it does, the magnetic field recorded at our observatories starts to vary rapidly – first at the station furthest north in Lerwick (Shetland Islands), then in Eskdalemuir (the Scottish Borders) and, if the storm is large enough, in Hartland (Devon). During these stormy periods, the aurora may become visible – though it’s not always guaranteed. The Geomagnetism team do try to issue alerts if we think the aurora may be visible in the next day or two.
|Raspberry Pi with camera in its IP68 box. The lid|
with a Perspex dome is to the left.
|From L-R: Tim Taylor mounting the camera on the roof, the camera is angled to point north and just captures the top of the|
horizon in the image to the right; Camera pointing north on a typical (i.e. cloudy) day in Eskdalemuir.
|Image captured by the Eskdalemuir AuroraCam on 28/09/16 at 03:34 UT.|