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Clear nights per year

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#1 CMacD

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 10:25 AM

Is there a database somewhere of the number of clear nights per year for North America? I have always heard that places like New Mexico and Arizona have higher probabilities for clear skies but have never seen a distribution map of the continent. One has to exist I would assume?

#2 vsteblina

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 11:13 AM

Years ago the mt.graham eis had a map. Some of the solar sites also have maps but they are daytime.

The best source in my opinion is the clear sky charts sponsored sites. They have the forecasts for night by month.

If your looking out west....remember that mountains change weather. So as little as thirty miles can be very different in terms of clear skies. This is really important in the northwest part of the us.

#3 CMacD

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 11:26 AM

The best source in my opinion is the clear sky charts sponsored sites. They have the forecasts for night by month.


Hi Vladimir, I like the clear sky charts also. They are a great resource and tend to be fairly accurate too. I am unaware of how they are organized by month though?

#4 CMacD

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 12:45 PM

Perhaps I should have mentioned that I am looking for a place to set up and park my mobile robotic observatory for the long haul. I figured I might as well find the best skies and drive it there. But I have been frustrated with the lack of historical data presented in a way that would help me make that determination. With all of the resources at our disposal these days via the internet I would have expected a google search to provide a wealth of knowledge. Sadly I didn't find very much. A few surveys have been published from professional sources in relation to their large observatory sites but other than that not very much exists. Or at least not to the general masses that I could find.

So I got to thinking... In the absence of finding any historical data why don't I use the resources at our disposal and reduce the data myself. So 3 weeks ago I began the task of grabbing an image at midnight, every day, of North America from the clear sky chart. I choose to grab the "seeing" map as it contains not only a close representation of the cloud cover expected but also the astronomical seeing associated with the forecast. I realize that it is not a "real" image of the cloud cover but it would suffice to prove the concept. Last night I generated a transparency from the NASA North America at night image to superimpose over that. Using Registax I added up the 19 images so far and contrast stretched it to reveal the best areas in North America over the last 3 weeks. Below is the result. (Am I allowed to post an image like this?) I hope so because words just don't cut it. I plan to keep grabbing them every night and generate weekly, monthly, and even yearly graphical representations of what skies are best over time. I suppose it would be possible to reduce the data based upon zones as a combination of the images only gives an average of what the conditions where. So an area that is only mediocre all the time would not look any different from one that has drastically variable skies for 50% of the time.

(Oh, by the way, the two cross hairs represent the Discovery Channel Telescope and the McDonald Observatory)

Comments, suggestions?

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#5 1965healy

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 06:04 PM

Looks like you need to mount your mobile robotic observatory on a raft in the Gulf of Mexico. Nice image and a whole lot of work!

#6 Tom Clark

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 06:19 PM

Thanks for showing your map. It shows why we have had two cloudy nights in the last two months. Guess I picked the right spot! After living in FL for 40 years, I was tired of light pollution and clouds and humidity. I started a search for a dark sky with good seeing, and settled right in-between McDonald and the Discovery Telescope near Happy Jack. Check the first post in this thread and you can see links to our place. And there is room for 50 more astronomers.
http://www.cloudynig...5435774/page...

#7 CMacD

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 10:31 PM

I was tired of light pollution and clouds and humidity. I started a search for a dark sky with good seeing, and settled right in-between McDonald and the Discovery Telescope near Happy Jack.


Hi Tom. I have really appreciated watching your new build over the last little while. I got a chance to read your thread on your search for your new home too. I appreciated all the travelling that was involved :). You really got a chance to see the country while you were at it. Very nice. I was wondering what it would cost for something like my little 7 foot x 5 foot trailer to park somewhere for an extended period. There are a few trailer parks in the areas of the big observatories that store trailers there all year round for a fairly reasonable cost. They probably have insurance for the vehicles too so that may work out well. I guess I will need to phone around a fair bit when it gets to that stage. Unlike the search for a place to build a home I don't really need to erect anything or own the land just a little space and a reasonably clear horizon. Hopefully that will fall into place when I finally decide ;)

#8 Tom Clark

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 11:14 PM

Perhaps I should have mentioned that I am looking for a place to set up and park my mobile robotic observatory for the long haul.


Costs? My guess is that there are many variables involved. You will need electrical connections and internet for a remote project. Most storage lots offer neither. Also, most storage lots do not offer insurance, and if you are able to find a land owner who is willing, they would not be willing to be responsible for your equipment. Good luck in your search.

#9 1965healy

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 11:59 PM

Clark, are you in Ontario, Canada or Ontario, California? Difference of a couple thousand miles. What do you need beside a place to park? 110v power, Internet access, someone to check or trouble shoot your rig if it fails? Does your insurance cover your rig if you park it somewhere and something happens to it? Wind, rain, lightening strike, earthquake or heaven forbid vandals? Do you intend to pay someone something to allow you to use their property, rent or lease on a monthly or annual basis? Babysitting fee to check, monitor or trouble shoot problems with the rig. A power failure during rain or snow could be a disaster if the dome/roof failed to close. I suppose if you got a fault notice from the rig you could ask the property owner to toss/tie a tarp over it until you could get to the site. All things to consider. It would be ideal if some astro geek with a home in the middle of dark skies was feeling altruistic and volunteered to let you setup there and could take care of it for you. It may or may not be a reality. Best to explore all the options. Answering some of my questions may help others to assist you in your search.

#10 gravitino

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 02:42 AM

Is there a database somewhere of the number of clear nights per year for North America? I have always heard that places like New Mexico and Arizona have higher probabilities for clear skies but have never seen a distribution map of the continent. One has to exist I would assume?


Hi Clark,

I can get historical data for most "major" locations from

http://weatherspark.com/

It is a fun site to play around with; for the info you are after you'll probably want the "Averages" or "History" link.

Clear skies,
-- Shane

#11 Al8236

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 03:35 AM

Perhaps this is what you are looking for!
http://www.ncdc.noaa...e/ccd/cldy.html
Or this!
http://www.currentre...te-sunshine.php

#12 Tom Clark

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 08:44 AM

Clark,

Check out Rancho Hidalgo. It might just be what you are looking for. Sorry I didn't think of it earlier. We drove past it the other day while visiting friends at the Arizona Sky Village. It is an inexpensive way to have a remote observatory. There are already many there.

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#13 CMacD

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 09:05 AM

Clark, are you in Ontario, Canada or Ontario, California?

Canada

What do you need beside a place to park?

110v power?

No

Internet access?

Yes. I live in the country now and have a internet hub (wireless that uses a SIM card)I was hoping to get something like that.

someone to check or trouble shoot your rig if it fails?

That would be the last line of defence. But ultimately yes.

Does your insurance cover your rig if you park it somewhere and something happens to it? Wind, rain, lightening strike, earthquake or heaven forbid vandals?

Don't have any insurance yet.

Do you intend to pay someone something to allow you to use their property, rent or lease on a monthly or annual basis?

Yes

A power failure during rain or snow could be a disaster if the dome/roof failed to close. I suppose if you got a fault notice from the rig you could ask the property owner to toss/tie a tarp over it until you could get to the site.


I plan to use the rig for a few years at home to work out any bugs in the system. It will be battery powered from solar cell.

It would be ideal if some astro geek with a home in the middle of dark skies was feeling altruistic and volunteered to let you setup there and could take care of it for you.


Agreed - but not so easy to procure ;)

#14 CMacD

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 09:07 AM

Perhaps this is what you are looking for!
http://www.ncdc.noaa...e/ccd/cldy.html
Or this!
http://www.currentre...te-sunshine.php


Thanks for the links Al. I was kinda hoping for a graphical representation but it might be possible to generate one from this data too.

#15 CMacD

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 09:16 AM

Clark,

Check out Rancho Hidalgo. It might just be what you are looking for. Sorry I didn't think of it earlier.


Thanks Tom. That might work too. Do you have any idea how I might contact them? I looked at the web site but there wasn't much there.

#16 Steve Drapak

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 04:17 AM

It looks like there is a newer one called Granite Gap: http://www.granitega...erving-oppor...

There is contact information part way down the page in the comments: Their web address is: www.newhorizonswest.org. Here is their contact information:
New Horizons West Inc.
30 Wasburn Rd
Animas, NM 88020
Phone: 575 548 0067

Not sure if they are live yet. Sounds interesting.

Steve

#17 Steve Drapak

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 04:33 AM

You might be able to tease some data out of Wolfram Alpha. It can generate graphical data, though maybe not overlaid on a map. Asking it something like "cloud cover brampton ontario for october 2012" will give you a nice chart of the cloud cover over the month. It's a bit of fiddling to get exactly what you want.
For my area it's averaged a couple of days a month clear for a while now near Toronto (yay Canada!). I went to Tucson last week in hopes of taking in some of the legendary weather there. Rained and cloudy solid for the 3 days I was there. I must have bought something for the scope.... My eye has started to twitch whenever I think about it.

Steve

#18 Parsec96

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 10:30 PM

Clark, there is such a chart (mean cloud cover at night, per month) in the Canadian Royal Astronomical Society's annual handbook!

#19 CMacD

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 08:38 AM

www.granitegap.com
&
www.newhorizonswest.org


Thanks Steve,

Does anyone know any more about what is or will be happening out there? At the New Horizons site they talk about having groups of youth out regularly with rocket launching etc. At first read I got a bit concerned about vandalism or having things fall into an open observatory. I had always hoped to keep my project on the hush hush to some extent. The least amount of public exposure the better. Does anyone have any experience with public sites like this? My trailer is so small someone could easily walk right up to it while in operation and touch or take whatever they pleased.

#20 csa/montana

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 10:52 AM

My trailer is so small someone could easily walk right up to it while in operation and touch or take whatever they pleased.



This would be my major concern leaving something like this completely unattended, in a public place. You will be at the mercy of anyone going by it. Your best bet would be on someone's private land, that is occupied, so at least it could be watched somewhat.

#21 1965healy

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 02:35 PM

My trailer is so small someone could easily walk right up to it while in operation and touch or take whatever they pleased.



This would be my major concern leaving something like this completely
unattended, in a public place. You will be at the mercy of anyone going
by it. Your best bet would be on someone's private land, that is
occupied, so at least it could be watched somewhat.


Can you post a pic/sketchof your rig so we can have some idea of what you'retalking about?

#22 Christopher Erickson

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 02:50 PM

One of the challenges here in Hawaii is that the weather is very localized because of the influence of the Easterly trade winds combined with the height and size of the volcanoes.

Here in Waikoloa Village, we have had 3.09" of rain so far this year and 310 clear nights. 1/2 hour away in Waimea/Kamuela, they have had about 120" of rain and maybe 60 clear nights.

Waikoloa Village averages about 4-12" of rain a year and about 300-330 clear nights.

Some areas here on the Big Island can get more than 240" of rain a year. They are fun places to visit but I would sure hate to live there!

#23 CMacD

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 06:25 PM

Can you post a pic/sketchof your rig so we can have some idea of what you'retalking about?


Here is the thread about the build - http://www.cloudynig.../Number/5488192

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#24 CMacD

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 06:29 PM

Your best bet would be on someone's private land, that is occupied, so at least it could be watched somewhat.


That would be ideal Carol, I agree. Perhaps over the next couple of years I will meet someone that lives in southern Arizona, New Mexico, or Texas with a heart for astronomy and has 5'x 7' that they are not using :) Perhaps I will ask around at the WSP in Feb.

#25 1965healy

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 10:10 PM

Not where I can post links. Suggest you Google Extech VB300. This is a 3 axis G Force/Shock Sensor contained in a USB dongle. You might want to make a "dummy" scope to mount, attach this and take your rig for a spin. The unit records data that you can analyze using their software. For about $200.00 you can pre-test the road worthiness of your rigs suspension. People have used these to find out just what kind of abuse their "fragile" cargo has been exposed to. Using it BEFORE you mount your scope might save you some costly surprises at the end of your journey.






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