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Clear nights per year

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#51 OLDTIMER77

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 05:47 AM

An interesting question CMAcD of Ontario, Canada asks and one I would ask of amateur astronomers living in England trying to observe 'anything' in this Country.

Ofcourse the question of clear nights is somewhat subjective: one observer's interpretation of a clear night sky is another's view of only 30/40% cloud covered.
Here in Buckinghamshire I have only seen 3 totally clear night skies in the last 18months and tempting as it was to just observe and photo I decided to renew my CGE PRO:2+4 align/calib stars because of the rare opportunity of selecting widely placed reasonably low stars in the North and Eastern night skies.
This exercise was very worth while because it greatly improved my 'Scope GOTO performances, the following night which amazingly was also 100% clear.

However it was almost 5months later before another totally clear night sky became visible.
So! in between these rarities we amateurs in Britain have to be satisfied with a night sky in which perhaps only 30% or maybe 70% is revealing 'beautiful stellar objects'.

Another issue of course is how much of the sky is visible from your own back yard without too much obstruction from neighbours houses. roof and trees etc.
Fortunately to have a small observatory, my observing is restricted to NW:SE:some Southerly aspects and these are only visible at altitudes in XS of 30deg.

BUT if I am able to see most all the stars visible at these locations I would consider myself lucky to have a ClearNight Sky.

Please excuse the longish post but the point I wished to emphasise is that Clearskies does not necessary mean what it says:
However I will end wishing everyone:
"May each of you have the best possible Clear Night Skies for your future observing.
Thank you for reading.
OldTimer

#52 CMacD

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 01:41 PM

I understand what you are saying OldTimer. I live in the country now but before we moved out here we used to live in a city of about 300,000 people. A lot of light pollution there. Now about 45 min north of that is much less light polluted but I live among the trees :( I like to observe visually but would much rather be doing more astronomical discovery. To do that with any frequency you really need a lot of clear sky - in every sense of the word. Hence this thread and the desire to find the best place possible for a remote observatory. Now I am finding out that clear skies are only part of the battle. Whoda thunk?

#53 CMacD

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 02:19 PM

March. I have been comparing the weather across North America now since late November 2012 and Arizona is starting to become the "clear" choice for sky watching (for the winter months at least). New Mexico, Texas, and the Florida Keys didn't fair so well this time around. It turns out that this past month Manitoba and British Columbia had the largest clear areas on the continent. I bet that doesn't happen very often. Not too many observatories built in those places. I suppose all one would need is to brave the -20 degree weather and shovel a few feet of snow off of the observatory roof and you would be set :)

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#54 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 06:38 PM

Clark,

Being in New Mexico I can agree with the trends you show. I can totally agree with the results for AZ.

Key highlights here in NM:
-- DRY CLIMATE
-- High altitude
-- 310+ clear skies

Moving from the Midwest I not only far more days of viewing, but also the skies were much clearer. It was like I got a new telescope.

I am now convinced using a larger size telescope out east is completely useless. Yes, it is better than nothing, the difference in performance between the east coast and southwest is profound.

Oh and no mosquitos and all that.

#55 johne

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 07:20 AM

I've been keeping an eye on this thread and up until this last map posting, it looked pretty accurate. However, where I live, in the mountains about 5 miles NW of Prescott,
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the later part of Feb. and most all of March sure seemed to have had poor conditions with high clouds most late afternoons and nights.

#56 CMacD

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 08:30 AM

I've been keeping an eye on this thread and up until this last map posting, it looked pretty accurate. However, where I live, in the mountains about 5 miles NW of Prescott, the later part of Feb. and most all of March sure seemed to have had poor conditions with high clouds most late afternoons and nights.


Very interesting Johne. Thanks for pointing this out. I waited a little longer than usual to post this month because my machine somehow bungled the downloading of 10 days worth of data from the 8th until the 18th. I added the first few days of April in an attempt to minimize the loss but you caught me :). It looks like 10 days over the course of the month can really make a big difference. Good catch.

#57 johne

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 10:12 AM

I just wonder whether the system that captures the information is not that sensitive to thin, high/cirrus clouds? (Just speculating.)

#58 CMacD

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 12:36 PM

I just wonder whether the system that captures the information is not that sensitive to thin, high/cirrus clouds? (Just speculating.)


The images are a prediction only so I would expect some discrepancies with reality. I should also mention however that I am capturing real infra-red satellite images 3 times a night as well. I was planning on pasting them together in a final collage after a full year but could place them along side of the predicted "seeing" images also.

#59 Calypte

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 04:53 PM

I just wonder whether the system that captures the information is not that sensitive to thin, high/cirrus clouds? (Just speculating.)

Meteorologists have a different idea of "clear" than we astronomers. I frequently see forecasts of "clear" and even descriptions of current conditions that show "clear," when all they really mean is that, somewhere above that deck of cirrostratus, there are probably some stars.

#60 Mike Clemens

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 01:24 PM

Thus concludes the worst year I remember for deep sky pics in Alaska in the last 10? I think I had 5 sessions this year. Looking forward to September.... I mean, except for everything else but astrophotography. I worked hard to set myself up for daytime photography this last four months, sort of throwing in the towel.

#61 Christopher Erickson

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 05:13 PM

Thus concludes the worst year I remember for deep sky pics in Alaska in the last 10? I think I had 5 sessions this year. Looking forward to September.... I mean, except for everything else but astrophotography. I worked hard to set myself up for daytime photography this last four months, sort of throwing in the towel.


You should take your 200mm TEC APO and AP1200GTO and ship them to me! We'll set them up in a small robotic observatory here on my property in Hawaii and you can run them remotely...

#62 CMacD

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Posted 06 May 2013 - 09:09 AM

April 2013. I must have had my laptop unplugged more than I realized this past month. Only 16 images were used to create this collection for the month (oops). They are spread out over the course of the month so that is one consolation. Southern Arizona and southern Florida are the winners again. I have never been to Texas but looking over the images for the past 6 months I would have expected clearer skies for the number of professional observatories located in that state. Then again they are located in the western edge of the state so I guess that goes to show as the realtors say "Location, Location, Location!".

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#63 CMacD

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 07:28 AM

May 2013. This past month has been another for Arizona and Florida. Apart from Northern Alberta and Saskatchewan most of North America had mostly equal seeing and cloud cover. Well, the west was better than the east.
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Winter/Spring 2012-2013.

I don't know about the rest of you but up here in Ontario, Canada we have had a pretty cool spring. Almost out of the norm - at least for the past few years anyway. The following image is a compilation of 144 images from late November 2012 until this morning. Clearly the winners over this past winter and spring have been southern Arizona and the Florida Keys. Given the fact that the Keys are prone to severe weather on a yearly basis around hurricane season I would say that I am leaning towards southern Arizona around the area of Prescott to be the best place for observing in all of North America so far. Does that sound about right? I would say to the west of Tucson but I have read that this area can be kind of rough and dangerous with people needing to bring guns and leave an observing schedule with the local sheriff etc. On a final note an interesting place nearing the mid latitude of the states is Greybull Wyoming. I wasn't expecting to see a single patch of clear good seeing up there. I guess topography has a lot to do with it.
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#64 Starhawk

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 08:55 AM

It looks like the best places would be either Willcox, AZ, or up near Safford, AZ would be the best place. This wouldn't be a coincidence- the Large Binocular Telescope was put on top of Mount Graham because of the superior seeing and weather in. That area.

There is a ham radio station on top of Heliograph peak, just down the way. It would be worth a try to see if they would be willing to let a little robotic observatory join their antennas on a 10,000 peak.

-Rich

#65 vsteblina

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 09:01 AM

.......I would say to the west of Tucson but I have read that this area can be kind of rough and dangerous with people needing to bring guns and leave an observing schedule with the local sheriff etc.


That was only because we spent the winter in the area. AND I do mean winter...on Jan 15th the low for the morning was 12!

There are plenty of developed campgrounds and other spots for observing.

Not sure I would feel comfortable with just camping outside of developed facilities with all the aliens streaming north through the area.

There are also the internal Border Patrol checkpoints scattered about the area. I don't know how well-lit they are at night....but the internal checkpoint outside of Tombstone looks like it has a great observing spot just east of it!!

We have spent two winters in the area. Next year, we will probably be looking for a warmer area closer to the Colorado River area.

The only downside from an observing point of view is the area sometimes gets dust particles in the air. There is a big dry lake bed in the middle of the area and I think the dust comes from that lake bed.

BTW.....we stayed in Benson.

#66 CMacD

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 09:07 AM

There is a ham radio station on top of Heliograph peak, just down the way. It would be worth a try to see if they would be willing to let a little robotic observatory join their antennas on a 10,000 peak.
-Rich


That's a cool idea Rich. I should look into that - thanks.

#67 CMacD

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 10:56 AM

June 2013. This past month has not been very good. I would have thought that June and July would have been the really nice clear months but it is not shaping up that way. Southern Florida is still a good place to be as well as Arizona and maybe the extreme South West of California although the light pollution there is killer?

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#68 LakeFX

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 02:35 PM

http://neo.sci.gsfc....MODAL2_M_CLD_FR

Monthly averages...

Works with Google Earth.

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#69 CMacD

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 06:59 AM

http://neo.sci.gsfc....MODAL2_M_CLD_FR

Monthly averages...

Works with Google Earth.


Very interesting Michael. I haven't seen that site before. Some of the more useful visual images are just one day sadly - but overall quite informative. Thanks.

#70 CMacD

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Posted 07 August 2013 - 12:49 PM

July 2013. This past month has been almost a repeat of June. Not very good. Florida saw a bit more cloud this month as did southern Arizona. The central states saw a little less dense cloud cover but nothing to write home about. I would have to say that there is no clear winner this month. The south west is just marginally better than the rest of the continent this time around.

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#71 CMacD

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 09:56 AM

August 2013. Nothing special this month either. For the first time Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi made the running - although there seems to be quite a bit of light pollution that way. The Florida Keys always seem to be in the running and usually have good seeing and transparency. This month was another strong showing for them. New Mexico and Arizona had nothing out of the ordinary for a third straight month.
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#72 vsteblina

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 01:52 PM


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?


Sorry, I missed this message of yours. The sponsored clocks under FORECAST HISTORY have a summary of all the elements shown in the clocks, by month. So you can get cloud cover in 10% increments for each month.

Really a great service and an excellent reason to sponsor a clock.

I just wish he would send out BILLS for sponsorship....I keep forgeting to pay mine ahead of time!!

#73 CMacD

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 01:57 PM

The sponsored clocks under FORECAST HISTORY have a summary of all the elements shown in the clocks, by month. So you can get cloud cover in 10% increments for each month.

Really a great service and an excellent reason to sponsor a clock.


Does this service only exist for sponsors then? I searched the page for the word "history" but didn't find any.






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