Auroras have been investigated from two points of view: the first is used to study atmospheric processes, and the second is an aid in analyzing magnetospheric phenomena. Much progress has been made as a result of correlated observations, which should become much more important in the future. There have been correlations of auroral observations with observations of magnetospheric particle behavior, radio absorption and scatter, and particle precipitation and ionospheric data.

Auroras occur in a narrow band in the shape of an oval that is offset a few degrees from the magnetic pole. The oval is continous, widens and shifts equatorward with increased Kp, and has much structure. During disturbed times the day side motion is faster and therefore the oval tends toward a circle with increase of Kp. Although the auroral observations may appear to be continous on the basis of widely separated observations, there may be several separate processes involved.