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How to Choose a Good Northern Lights App

best northern lights app

Improve your chances of seeing the aurora with a good Northern Lights app. We review several apps for forecasting and predicting aurora borealis, with tips on choosing the best mobile app for your needs.

In the days before smartphones and the Internet, hunting for the elusive northern lights was a more difficult process. There were very few resources that you could use to accurately predict when the auroras may appear over the horizon. As a result, you could spend days waiting for the ghostly lights to appear, to no avail. It wasn’t uncommon to visit the north, and spend an entire week hunting for the auroras, only to be disappointed with a lackluster appearance or two.

Today, however, thanks to the many advents in mobile technology, it’s possible to accurately forecast whether the northern lights will make an appearance or not, and plan a trip around that prediction. But not all aurora borealis forecasting apps are created equal.

In this article, we discuss the best northern lights app options available, and the criteria you should look for when choosing one.

How to Choose a Good Northern Lights App

No two northern lights forecasting apps are created equal. They all have unique features that make them helpful in some ways, but this does not always equate to accuracy. When determining which forecasting app for northern lights to use, there are several key factors to take into consideration. The most important of these is accuracy, followed by reliability, the graphical user interface, and then the individual features.

Essential Criteria for Aurora Borealis App

In order of importance, the criteria you should consider when choosing an aurora borealis app are:

  1. Accuracy
  2. Reliability
  3. User Interface
  4. App Features

#1 Accuracy

Accuracy is one of the most important factors when selecting an aurora forecasting app. It’s important to remember that there are a number of different factors that are involved in forecasting the appearance of the elusive lights. Different apps use different algorithms to calculate the odds of the lights’ appearance; some are more accurate than others.

#2 Reliability

Being accurate some of the time is not as important as being reliable. While an app for northern lights may advertise a high level of accuracy, they may not be able to do this consistently. Sometimes, it is better to choose an aurora app with a more reliable algorithm, than it is to choose an app with a more accurate algorithm.

#3 User Interface

Perhaps one of the biggest differences between any of the available forecasting apps is the graphical user interface. A good aurora borealis app will have a user-friendly interface, that is simple to learn and ensures both accurate and reliable data forecasts in real-time. Keep in mind, that the best interfaces aren’t always the best looking, rather they simply have more intuitive functionalities.

#4 Features

Lastly, you have the features of individual forecasting apps. While some apps focus solely on the prediction of the appearance of the northern lights, other applications offer access to an entire community of other aurora hunters, who can make it easier to find the best locations to view the elusive lights.

TIP: Before disappearing into the wilderness on your aurora hunt, make sure you have access to the internet or you check the forecast before you leave. Aurora borealis apps require an internet connection to work.

The Best Northern Lights App Options

While it would be great to simply pick one northern lights forecasting app, there are so many differences between the various apps, that it makes selecting the best nearly impossible. However, here are three of the most popular apps for forecasting the appearance of the northern lights:

  • My Aurora Forecast & Alerts
  • Northern Lights Aurora Forecast
  • Norway Lights (for Norwegian regions only)

Next, we’ll share a selection of northern lights app options and discuss how they perform on each of these essential criteria: accuracy, reliability, user interface and features.

My Aurora Forecast & Alerts


The My Aurora Forecast application is one of the more accurate apps available for both Android and Apple devices. It provides both short-term as well as long-term forecasting options, which makes it perfect for planning your next aurora hunt.


When it comes to reliability, the My Aurora Forecast app is also one of the most reliable. While there are some applications that are more accurate and reliable, they also require a paid subscription to get the information you need.

User Interface

With so many great features, you may think that the user interface is intuitive. However, because of the sheer number of features, some users may feel overwhelmed by the overall user interface.


  • KP Index
  • World Map
  • Choose Your Location
  • Free Push Notifications
  • Short-Term Forecasts
  • Long-Term Forecast
  • Solar Wind Statistics
  • View Web Cams from around the World
  • Tour Information
  • Available for iPhone, iPad, and Android Devices
  • No In-App Purchases

Why We Chose It

Whether you are a seasonal tourist or an experienced aurora watcher, you will find that the My Aurora Forecast is one of the best mobile applications available today. Not only does it offer short-term and long-term aurora forecasts, but it offers a wide array of useful information that will help you increase the chances of viewing the elusive lights.

As long as you have Internet access, you will get a constant update of the KP index, in real-time. The application will also send you push notifications so you do not miss any important information. Thanks to the long list of locations to choose from, the My Aurora Forecast app is perfect for anyone who is traveling the world in order to capture a glimpse of the elusive lights.

Northern Light Aurora Forecast


The Northern Lights Aurora Forecast application is a fairly accurate option. Rather than showing you a map of the entire world, like some of the other apps on this list, it provides the actual probability of viewing the lights by presenting you with a percentage rate.


This app is also extremely reliable. Not only can it provide fairly accurate short-term predictions with the help of data from NASA and NOAA, but it can also be used to predict the probability of auroras appearing over the next 27-day period.

User Interface

While the user interface may feel overwhelming at first, it only takes a few minutes to get accustomed to the layout. This particular app evenly balances its usability with a high number of excellent features.


  • Short-Term Forecasts
  • Moon Phase Chart
  • Weather Alerts
  • Long-Term Forecast
  • Probability Algorithm
  • KP Index
  • Solar Wind Activity
  • Local Time Instead of UTC
  • Location of Lights Compared to Horizon

Why We Chose It

Like many of the apps available on the market today, the Northern Lights Aurora Forecast application provides a lot of excellent features. Many users find themselves overwhelmed at first. However, it is a lot easier to learn how to use this particular app compared to the countless others currently available.

Since the main purpose of the forecasting app is to help monitor the activity of the northern lights in real time, you will find that this application comes bundled with a wide array of graphs and charts. These charts and graphs make it a lot simpler to use the application and understand the results of the forecasted predictions.

One of the most popular features of the Northern Lights Aurora Forecast app is the ability to roughly estimate the probability that you will see the elusive lights in a specific location. Before heading out into the countryside, pull out your phone and check the probability of an occurrence, with the help of a simple and easy-to-understand percentage rate

Norway Lights (Northern Lights app for Norway)


The Norway Lights application is extremely accurate, but its accuracy is limited to destinations within Norway. This application provides little to no accuracy for the rest of the world’s most popular northern lights viewing locations.


Because the application was specifically developed for use in Norway only, it is also extremely reliable within the country. By focusing purely on providing forecasts within Norway only, the application is able to offer probabilities that are also reliable and consistent.

User Interface

The number of features can make the usability of the Norway Lights application a little more difficult. Each of these features are specifically designed for people visiting the country. As a result, it is a full-featured travel application that is perfect for the nation’s booming northern lights tourism industry.


  • 3-Day Extended Forecast
  • Short-Term Forecast
  • Anticipates Activity in Specific Cities
  • Provides Facts about the Northern Lights
  • Provides a Map with a Relative Location
  • Provides Tips and Tricks for Photographing the Auroras
  • Offers Shortcuts to Get Flights and Tours

Why We Chose It

While other popular apps focus exclusively on helping you improve the chances of viewing the elusive lights, the Norway Lights application is specifically created to help you view the auroras from just about any location within Norway. It features a full-out travel guide, that will make it easier to get from one point of the country to another, in order to increase the chances of viewing the ghostly lights as they dance across the northern skies.

Not only will you have the ability to plan at least 3 days ahead of schedule, but the Norway Lights app provides you with the probability that the lights will make an appearance in any given city in the country.

The number of amazing features built into the Norway Lights make it an excellent choice when visiting Norway. However, it cannot be used for planning a northern lights expedition to any other destination in the world. If you are planning on visiting Norway to view the auroras, then the Norway Lights app is the perfect choice.

Other Good Northern Lights Apps & Websites

Arcticans Aurora Forecast


  • KP Index
  • HPI Index
  • Solar Wind Forecast
  • Real-Time Monitoring
  • Short-Term Forecast
  • Long-Term Forecast
  • Magnetometers
  • Northern Lights Web Cams
  • Push Notifications


  • Premium Account
  • Swiss Army Knife for the Aurora Hunter
  • Proprietary Algorithm
  • Amazing User Interface
  • Push Notifications


  • Paid App
  • May Not Be Perfect for Everyone



One of the best sources of information regarding the visibility of the auroras comes from NOAA.

In fact, most of the other applications available on the market today, use the prediction models provided from the NOAA website. Being the leader in forecasting technology, NOAA is able to provide some of the most accurate predictions possible. After all, most of the weather and atmospheric satellites orbiting the planet are either monitored or controlled exclusively by NOAA.

One of their most popular forecast models provides a roughly 30 to 90 minutes prediction window. This is more than enough time for the average person to drive outside of any major city, in order to view the elusive lights. Using a series of green and red coloring tones, the SWPC forecast can be used for predicting the occurrence of the elusive lights anywhere in the world.


  • Used by All Apps for Prediction Models
  • Freely Available
  • Monitored and Controlled by the World’s Brightest Minds
  • Easy to Understand


  • Doesn’t Offer a Long-Term Forecast
  • May Not Be Accessible Worldwide
  • Doesn’t Offer a Prediction as a Percentage

Tips for Using Your Northern Lights App

When it comes to using the wide array of northern lights forecasting apps that are available today, it is important to make sure that you optimize the settings for your particular needs. While each app will have its own unique menus and display, when it comes to aurora forecasting there are many features that are common between all good aurora borealis apps.

Allow the Northern Lights app to access your location

While there are a few applications that are regional-specific, most forecasting apps can be used around the world. As a result, you will need to set up the application in order to ensure that you have access to the most accurate and reliable forecasts.

Keep in mind, that some applications determine your location based on your GPS coordinates, rather than allowing you to specify the location. Where possible, you need to specify your hunting location and ensure that the information is available using the local time.

To ensure that the app can access your location, in your phone settings ensure that you give permission for the aurora app to access your location, otherwise the app may not be able to work properly as it does not know where you are.

Turn on push notifications to receive Northern Lights alerts

When used properly, a quality northern lights forecasting application can improve your overall viewing experience. Not only will it help you identify the best locations to view the elusive lights, but the push notification features make it easier to be alerted once the lights are visible.

Connect to the internet while using the app

Keep in mind, that these mobile applications do require a data connection in order to function to access aurora forecast data, so when visiting another country to view the northern lights, take the time to determine the best way of accessing the application’s features when you are out in the field.

Learn the lingo used in Northern Lights forecasting

Lastly, we recommend that you learn what all the different Northern Lights forecast terminology means. All of these apps will use terms like KP Index, HPI, Solar Wind and more so to get the most out of the app, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with these terms and their impact on aurora visibility. We discuss how to track and read an aurora borealis forecast in this article, with explanations of all those technical terms – great nerdy travel reading! Think of it like the equivalent of trying to read a weather forecast or a topographical map without knowing what all the different lines and terms mean – you might be able to work out some of it, but you will gain a much deeper understanding by learning the underlying science of the aurora phenomenon and technical concepts.

Final Thoughts on Choosing a Northern Lights App

This brings us to the end of our selection of the best app for northern lights options, for both iOS and Android. While it is not possible to pick one single ‘best’ app for northern lights, I would personally narrow it down to these two:

  • Aurora Forecast & Alerts (by JRustonApps B.V.)
  • Northern Lights Aurora Forecast (by Letovaltsev Maxim)

If you’re in Norway, then choose the Norway Lights app, certainly, but otherwise go for one of the above two apps instead. The Arcticans app seems promising, but given it’s price tag against the higher-rated free aurora borealis app options, it is difficult to place it amongst those that we consider the best.

If you are not bound to an app, then the best source of information is the NOAA, as discussed above, as basically all the aurora borealis app options rely on data from the NOAA for their forecasting functionality. However, you will only be able to access it via the NOAA website, without a dedicated app, which can make it difficult if you are travelling or hiking.

Happy aurora chasing!

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