Normally, studying these shimmering phenomena means taking multiple images of an aurora, using different filters that block or image different wavelengths. Now, a camera with tunable liquid crystal filters can capture many colors at once, a team of space-weather researchers reports Nov. 29 in Optics Express.
Called NORUSCA II, the camera also takes pictures of the entire sky. Scientists are hoping that such precision aurora-imaging will help them better understand and classify the celestial light shows.
The team tested the sky-gazing camera at the Kjell Henriksen Observatory in Svalbard, Norway, during the auroral season of 2011 and 2012. On Jan. 24, 2012, an enormous solar flare flung a blob of charged particles in Earth’s direction.