One of the pitfalls of writing software when based in the UK is that it’s sadly oh so easy to make a coding error with timezone handling because for half the year, the UK is of course using GMT and so my whole environment is using the same time zone as is common for external data sources to use.
This complacency led to the most recent bug with solar images where they would only load if your device was set to GMT – so handy for our Scottish cousins where Aurora are often visible, but not so great for our friends in Canada, Norway, or basically anywhere off the prime meridian. Mea Culpa! Better unit testing required in this case I think!
I only found the bug myself when travelling in the US recently, and luckily as I had a laptop with me, I was able to peek in the logs and see what was actually going on.
The fix is now live in store with the 1.7 update.
A kindly user alerted me to purchase difficulties with the latest update and on looking at the data I was able to confirm that I’d broken the receipt validation process when the app transitioned from my company account to my personal one 🙁
The update containing the fix is now with Apple for review and should hopefully be in store in a few days, or less if we’re lucky!
[UPDATE] 1.6 is now available for download and a user has kindly confirmed that this fixes their issue.
The latest update to Aurora, version 1.5, is now live. This iOS 7 refresh of the app also sees the addition of a new feature for viewing the sun as it is now – or indeed in the past. View the sun in dozens of different wavelengths and travel backwards or forwards in time by clicking to the left or the right of the solar disc.
Information on the solar observatories responsible for each image is available and better yet, if you access the new Images link from the solar activity page, you can view the sun as it was any time in the past for which you have data. This lets you scroll back to an x-ray flare for example and then view the sun as it was at the time.
The northern lights, or aurora borealis, remain one of natures most elusive and magnificent displays. Whilst familiar to residents of Alaska, Northern Canada and Scandinavia, few people realise that these aurorae are occasionally visible farther south – sometimes much further. The largest geomagnetic storm on record, in 1859 (the “Carrington Event”) lit up the skies (and melted telegraph wires!) around the world and as recently as 1989, the Canadian power grid was taken down by large solar storm.
Whilst events of that scale are extraordinary, YOU might be able to see the aurora more frequently than you thought, but you need the information to know when to look.
For example, whilst extreme events occur perhaps just 4 times every solar cycle (22 years), severe events occur perhaps 100 times per cycle, which on average is roughly once every 3 months. A severe geomagnetic storm may result in visible aurora in California, Ireland, England and all around the northern hemisphere – you just need to know when to look up!
That’s where the Aurora app comes in.
This free iPhone application taps into the latest live data from satellites and ground based stations around the world (with thanks to NASA and NOAA) to keep you abreast of the latest space weather conditions that influence the aurora.
Additionally, Aurora features the latest ovation prediction tool which gives you an easy to digest visual representation of the likely strength of aurora in your area.
Of course, we don’t expect you to check in with the app every day just in case, so we also offer a premium notification service which will send alerts directly to your iPhone when conditions for the aurora look promising.
Aurora was designed and developed by photographer and software engineer Roger Moffatt.