Over at the Where is… aurora, magnetic storm post, a reader left this interesting query
–2009 August 26 at 5:12 am

How can I get a geomagnetic storm alert on my computer? I raise and race pigeons for a hobby and I think this would give me valuable information to help me in my sport hobby. I have a big race coming up this weekend and would like to know the forecast about these storms. Will be having a race every weekend for the next 5 weeks. Thank you.

I’ve transposed our e-mail conversation for posting here–

You could always just come back to this blog. The Where is… aurora, magnetic storm post has a real-time alert. The alert can be added to anyone’s website or blog. If you don’t have a website, you should be able to add a widget or gadget to your PC desktop that contains the same code that will display the information. Alternatively, if you use a “home page” or portal, such as Google or Yahoo, you should be able to add the code to that, much as you can add weather updates, etc. It is possible to add widgets or gadgets to personal computer desktops connected to the Internet, like the weather gadgets. I’m not too familiar with gadgets.

The web page, http://www.n3kl.org/sun/noaa.html has a lot of interesting links and instructions for adding the alert, http://www.n3kl.org/sun/status.html, to your blog.

The aurora map is an indicator of activity. That is, the aurora is a result of storm activity. The aurora link has a discussion about how to interpret the daily activity into a longer term forecast– That might be a better site for you to bookmark. They also have ways to display differing maps of aurora activity, that is, where the aurora occurs over North America, which might help you plan the races more precisely. You can always come back here to get to those links.

The geomagnetic alerts are equally good for everywhere on earth (well, the pole which is pointing at the sun gets more than the opposite pole, in the shadow, does. This will be a seasonal variation.) The aurora alerts are for North America but are tied to how active the sun is. Don’t worry about where there aurora can be seen but rather when and how strong.

Here’s a screen shot from the aurora page. Geophysical Institute Web site – http://www.gedds.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast

aurora geomagnetic website

Click on the spot where the arrow points (at the website) to get the next day’s estimate. I think you can get maybe 3 weeks predicted but remember these are only probabilities and NOT determinations.

I briefly checked to see if there was something else to help you and found this website which contains links to other monitoring stations. You might be able to find more local (more precise) predictions but all the stations including the one at my site are all measuring the same thing. http://www.pigeonbasics.com/articles/article2.html

It sounds like pigeon racers may or may not need a very precise predictor. Could be that the storms, which do affect pigeon navigation, are not very precise at affecting the pigeon? If the effect is all or nothing, then you won’t need a very precise measurement.

You can sign up for email alerts at Sign up Aurora Alerts – http://www.gi.alaska.edu/mailman/listinfo/gse-aa

The Pigeon site has a link for an email alert from Real Time Alerts – http://sidc.oma.be/index.php3 but it isn’t real easy to find exactly how to sign up. http://sidc.oma.be/registration/registration_main.php

Good luck. If you find better sources of info, let me know and I’ll post them. It never occurred to me before you wrote and probably would help others, too. I’d be especially interested in how badly the solar activity affects pigeons, that is, if the activity goes up in steps, do the pigeons’ navigation get worse to the same extent?



*Hi, Pamela; thank you so much for your help. This is exactly what I was looking for. The last two weekends we have had two very bad smash races and I thought this might have something to do with it. Every little but of information helps in this sport. We race mostly for the fun of it and the compitition but sometimes we also have some pretty good size money races. Our clubs are here in Illinois. Some of the big guys in the sport race for thousands of dollars which we cannot afford. This is the largest hobby in the world but not in the United States. Belgium and Holland and Viet Nam are really big in it. There are races that pay out as much as a million dollars in prize money but we are just state wide and cannot go to that extreme. Thank you so much again. I will be using this chart that you sent to me regularly. B*

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