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Beyond the lights: Measuring the magnetic aurora

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Presenters Carl Tape, left, and Don Hampton, right.
Carl Tape and Don Hampton
Associate Professor (Tape) and Research Assistant Professor (Hampton)

What can geophysics tell us about the aurora borealis, and how do scientists measure its activity? In this talk, we’ll show how an advanced array of geophysical equipment installed across the state of Alaska is shedding new light on one of the Arctic’s oldest wonders. Scientists are redefining how we see the aurora, using everything from Alaska’s six all-sky cameras to devices that measure space weather. Join us as we take you on a tour of these changing views, from the 1716 discovery that the aurora is magnetic, to the new discovery that magnetic sensors in some 200 seismometers installed across Alaska — normally used to measure earthquakes — can be tuned to measure the aurora’s fluctuations.