Trinity College Dublin (TCD) researchers have created a new smartphone version of the SolarMonitor.org website so people can view NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) images of the sun via their smartphones.
TCD solar physicist Dr Peter Gallagher led the group from the School of Physics and School of Computer Science and Statistics which created the app.
Gallagher launched the app, which is iPhone and Android compatible, at the recent European Space Weather Week conference in Belgium. You can access the app by going to SolarMonitor.org on your smartphone.
As the sun is reaching the peak of its 11-year cycle, solar activity, especially solar storms, solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs), look set to be even higher this year, so utilities and power grid operators are especially keeping a close eye on the sun’s activities right now.
CMEs themselves are bursts of solar wind that spark aurorare, similar to what you see when you visualise the Northern Lights in northern latitudes, such as Norway.
Gallagher said SolarMonitor.org allows everyone to track the weather on the sun and to find out when the Northern Lights, also known as the the aurora borealis, are likely to be visible.
He said the new app will complement the existing website, as it will display the most recent images of the sun, including information on how many sunspots are visible and if any flares have occurred. Data for the app is gathered from solar observatories and satellites such as SOHO, STEREO and Hinode.
SolarMonitor.org’s current users include everyone from students to solar physicists to companies that operate power grids or GPS systems, he said.