October 14, 2019 Lucia Schweigert

Interview with Live Aurora Network co-founder Steve Collins

Live Aurora Network northern lights

The founders of the Live Aurora Network, Steve, Tony and Jeff (left to right), in Iceland.

Steve co-founded the Live Aurora Network with Tony Collins, because after too many cold nights in remote Scandinavian fields with no aurora (something experienced by many tourists) they realised there must be a better way. Their app identifies aurora activity with a 100% accuracy rate and you don’t need experience of reading scientific forecasts to use it. You can use the app when you’re out aurora hunting or to watch the aurora from the comfort of your own home.

We asked Steve five questions about his work and the aurora.

1. What does a typical month at the Live Aurora Network look like for you?

A typical month starts with rectifying problems that have occurred on our cameras. This will include a trip to Iceland or Norway, which we try to time with solar storms and clear skies, and will usually involve hardware upgrades or general changes to our first four cameras. We learnt our lesson after a few of these and so have worked with Sony to gain remote access to change settings like ISO exposure etc.

2. What fascinates you about the aurora?

The diversity of how much it changes with each display, and just how little we know about predicting it compared to terrestrial weather.

3. What was your most special aurora experience to date?

One was standing at the DC-3 Plane Wreck in South Iceland when a G1 storm hit at sunset and we could hear the screams of delight from adults all around. Another was standing in a lava field, also in South Iceland, when we started to hear a group of Icelandic locals singing ‘She’ll Be Coming Around The Mountain When She Comes’. We could just make out the tune.

4. What are you most looking forward to in this year’s aurora season in the Northern Hemisphere?

Equinox aurora is always special, because you can see reflections in lakes and experience big storms. I’m also looking forward to sitting in a hot spring with a solar storm above our heads.

5. What’s your best tip for aurora fans?

Be patient. Book late. You need three factors to see a big aurora: a solar storm, clear skies and patience. Oh, and a bit of luck.

 

Thank you, Steve! We’ll be sure to stay tuned in on the app.

Check out the Live Aurora Network and download the app to your phone. You can find the download links on the homepage or search the app in your app store.

 

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About the Author

Lucia Schweigert Lucia Schweigert works on communications and social media in cleantech, science and the arts. Her interests are in technology that will positively transform the world, the need for greater environmental responsibility and equality of opportunity for girls and boys. Lucia loves the crossover between art and science and works with Dr Melanie Windridge to share stories of science and adventure.