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In the light of the aurora

Optical auroral research in northernmost Europe

image of In the light of the aurora

The aurora, or northern lights, is the most variable light phenomenon in the sky and the result of physical processes taking place in near-Earth space. The colours, shapes, intensities, locations and movements of auroral forms give us information about these processes. Ground-based optical studies are superior for high-resolution measurements and to distinguish temporal and spatial effects. Arctic Europe is a most convenient place to study the aurora. Many instruments and research facilities have been placed here. The Network for Groundbased Optical Auroral Research in the Arctic Region is supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers and consists of all research institutions in northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and on theKola Peninsula active in optical auroral research. This reportintroduces optical aurora and optical research methods, research institutions and research infrastructure. It also describes the activities of the network: workshops, mobility programme and scientific results.

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Facilities and instruments for measurements of optical aurora

Northernmost Europe is an excellent region for auroral studies, by many considered to be the best in the world. The climate is mild compared to other places under the auroral oval and the infrastructure is very well developed. Svalbard is the only place in the world where the dayside auroral oval can be studied in darkness. Many instruments and instrument networks for studies of the optical aurora have been set up, both by the institutions in the region and by institutions from other parts of the world. In this chapter we give an overview of the existing facilities and instruments. Locations are shown on the map in Figure 8.

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