Geospace Timeline : Latest 3 hours
Ovation Prime Model
When you see the predictive band of the Ovation Prime Model turn bright green, yellow, or better yet red, it means the odds of Aurora activity are very high. This is best used as a short term forecasting tool.
27 Day Forecast
NOAA puts out the very best 27-day forecast. Any forecast more than three days out suffers severely in inaccuracy but if you are making long term plans and want a little help, check it out. It is made in UTC time which is 9 hours off from Alaska. This, and the fact that we care about night time solar winds, which straddle two calendar days, leads to the forecasts often being late by a day for Alaska.
You should consider a 2 to be average to slightly below average and a 3 to be average to above average. Twos and threes are the most common predictions.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute puts out a 27-day forecast, it is based on NOAA's which is also updated only once a week. Would you trust a weather forecast that was updated once a week? It also suffers from the UTC to Alaska time zone problem, making it extremely inaccurate. Making matters worse, it is the first page that comes up if you google "aurora forecast," causing a great disservice to many local would be aurora viewers. It does have other valuable information about the aurora so here is the link if you want to check it out.
What About the Moon?
Effective no moon conditions for the 2019-2020 season are:
August 27 - 31, 2019
September 1- 7 and 25-30, 2019
October 1 - 6 and 23 - 31, 2019
November 1 - 4 and 21 - 30, 2019
December 1 - 2 and 20 - 31, 2019
January 17 - 29, 2020
February 14 - 27, 2020
March 13 - 27, 2020
April 11 - 21, 2020
Complete 2019-20 Aurora Moon Calendar
Effective no moon conditions for the 2020-2021 season are:
August 21 - 27, 2020
September 13 - 24, 2020
October 13 - 23, 2020
November 11 - 20, 2020
December 9 -19, 2020
January 6 - 16, 2021
February 4 - 15, 2021
March 4 - 16, 2021
April 1 - 14, 2021
Complete 2020-21 Aurora Moon Calendar
The northern lights can be seen regardless of the moon's phase on an active night. It can be helpful for there to be some moon because the partial moon will light up the landscape for your pictures. Strictly speaking, for viewing purposes only and not photography, it is better to have less moonlight than more. Too much moonlight can make it difficult to see quiet aurora displays with the naked eye. Our tours often get sold out near a new-moon so it is wise to reserve your spot on it as soon as you know you will be traveling.
You can see here that the landscape is very bright, this makes it difficult to see the stars in the photo (they are there) and makes it difficult to do long exposures on the camera because the landscape would be too bright.
Half-Moon as it is Setting
You can actually see the half-moon as it is setting in this photo. It really nicely lights up the mountainside and moments later it set leaving the landscape in darkness. Pro tip: having a near half moon that sets between 11 pm and 1 am can give you the best of both worlds, moonlight and no moonlight in the same tour.
This photo was taken on the same tour and only minutes after the half-moon photo. It is equivalent to a new-moon situation. Notice just how dark the ridgeline and mountains are. That saddle you can see in the ridge line on the left is the same one seen in the half-moon picture except in that photo it is on the far right.