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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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star drop
contra contrail
*****

Reged: 02/02/08

Loc: Snow Plop, WNY
Re: Summer Observing In US Northeast - Is it Possible? new [Re: beatlejuice]
      #5953792 - 07/03/13 08:48 PM

Quote:

Hey, it is a toss of the dice and sooner or later they will be right!

Eric



Nope, the dice are loaded.


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roscoe
curmudgeon
*****

Reged: 02/04/09

Loc: NW Mass, inches from VT
Re: Summer Observing In US Northeast - Is it Possible? new [Re: star drop]
      #5954407 - 07/04/13 07:37 AM

I went out last night for the doggy-walk, and .... somewhat dim and fuzzy, but visible, were actual stars!! So, for all those who despair, they haven't burned out yet!
Russ


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Tony Flanders
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/18/06

Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: Summer Observing In US Northeast - Is it Possible? new [Re: Peter10]
      #5954474 - 07/04/13 08:44 AM

Well, just goes to show.

I had pretty much given up hope of trying to observe Venus passing through the Beehive Cluster. It's been more cloudy than clear here in Boston, and when it's clear the transparency has generally been quite poor.

But, by golly, last night it cleared beautifully, and the transparency was actually quite good (by summer standards). I followed Venus down to a couple of degrees above the theoretical horizon -- but alas no Beehive Cluster. I still don't know if it's possible to see it so low in twilight, but if so, it requires genuinely great transparency, not pretty good like I had last night.

And we're still spang in the middle of the hot, humid weather pattern; in fact the absolute humidity yesterday was the highest it's been all year. Just goes to show that it is in fact possible to have very high humidity and respectable transparency at the same time.

Don't get me started about the mosquitos ...


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galexand
sage
*****

Reged: 07/10/12

Loc: Bloomington Indiana
Re: Summer Observing In US Northeast - Is it Possible? new [Re: Peter10]
      #5954496 - 07/04/13 09:11 AM

I live in Indiana and have had a similarly cruddy spring.

Since October, I haven't had a decent night. There has been a constant haze, a lot of clouds, and poor seeing to boot. I was getting angry from all of the times I would drag out my "big scope" and not hardly be able to see anything before a cloud comes in. Then I bought a "little scope" just in time for May, which had a real preponderence of "clear" nights with only maybe half a dozen clouds in the sky, but still the sort of haze that smears Vega across 30 arcminutes and the sort of seeing that has the stars twinkling even naked eye. With the little scope, I could drag out the whole kit in one hand, set up and look at something, and not feel like I wasted any effort when a cloud came in five minutes later. It was even so light I might drag the scope out again an hour later when the clouds had moved.

But last night!! After a week straight of solid packed cloud cover, I noticed that not only was it clear tonight, but I couldn't see any twinkle. I brought out the big scope for the first time in months. I was immediately able to split double double (epsilon lyrae), which requires pretty good seeing as the inner doubles are pretty much the tightest I've ever split. I jumped all over the sky, got the best views of Saturn and M13 (hercules globular) I've had this year, and so on. Great time. Just absolutely perfect 250x view of Saturn in a 6" scope, which is pretty much as good as seeing has ever been. There were still clouds at the horizon obscuring things like Scorpius or Cassiopeia, and it hazed up a little as I stayed out... But really my only complaint is my 1-year-old kid doesn't give me enough flexibility to just stay up all night and watch Andromeda and Perseus rise out of the muck.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Now if only we could do something about the mosquitos...


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Eric63
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 06/16/12

Loc: Ottawa, Ontario
Re: Summer Observing In US Northeast - Is it Possible? new [Re: galexand]
      #5954689 - 07/04/13 12:34 PM

It's been horrible in Eastern Ontario too! Yesterday the forecast called for some clouds with poor transparency and poor seeing. I was going to stay in and relax when I decided to take a chance and set up. Well the clouds were not there, the transparency was not great but not that bad but best of all, the seeing was great! Go figure. I had some of the best views of Saturn. So this is how it has been so far this year. Play it by ear and take chances now and then.

Eric


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russell23
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/31/09

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Summer Observing In US Northeast - Is it Possible? new [Re: Eric63]
      #5954787 - 07/04/13 01:39 PM

I got 20 minutes of observing last night before clouds rolled in and ended the fun.

Dave


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BrooksObs
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/08/12

Re: Summer Observing In US Northeast - Is it Possible? new [Re: russell23]
      #5955048 - 07/04/13 05:34 PM

Well, as Tony and several others have commented, last evening was passable along much of the East Coast (I personally experienced just enough left over very thin cirrus to negate serious work, however).

What has happened is that the strong Bermuda high pressure system that has been holding everything up for near two weeks has finally moved some...but westward toward our shores! This should, however, provide for some nice clear warm nights in the eastern parts of most of the coastal states north of Georgia and across all of New England for at least a couple of days.

Of course, just how long this favorable pattern will prevail is difficult to say. Sooner, or later, unless it lifts to the north that big jet stream trough that brought us all the rain, now located from the Gulf to the Ohio Valley, will move back eastward once more.

So, use tonite and tomorrow evening to best advantage because it is uncertain just how long our luck will hold out.

BrooksObs

Edited by BrooksObs (07/04/13 05:37 PM)


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bherv
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 03/10/06

Loc: WMass
Re: Summer Observing In US Northeast - Is it Possible? new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #5955116 - 07/04/13 06:36 PM

I'm hoping it will stay through Saturday night. I will be up at Arunah Hill for some observing Friday through Sunday. I am surprised how blue the sky is despite the humidity. Expecting average transparency so if it stays clear it should be just fine. I also will have the luxury of having my air conditioned camper there to give me relief from the sticky air. I have enough fuel to keep my generator going through the weekend.
Barry


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russell23
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/31/09

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Summer Observing In US Northeast - Is it Possible? new [Re: bherv]
      #5955553 - 07/05/13 02:47 AM

I love it when the hourly forecast on weather.com is completely wrong! I just got in from over 4 hours of perfectly clear skies. According to the forecast it was supposed to be partly and mostly cloudy all night. It was my first real good look at the summer sky this season.

Dave


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roscoe
curmudgeon
*****

Reged: 02/04/09

Loc: NW Mass, inches from VT
Re: Summer Observing In US Northeast - Is it Possible? new [Re: russell23]
      #5955651 - 07/05/13 07:09 AM

I had a cloud bank come in about 11:15, but before that, got back from 4th festivities down in the valley, looked up, horizon-to-horizon milky way!!!!!! Got a quick star-test of my new vintage 60mm Asahi (read about it down in the 'classics') and amazingly had about Bortle 8 viewing straight up!
Russ


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BrooksObs
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/08/12

Re: Summer Observing In US Northeast - Is it Possible? new [Re: roscoe]
      #5955712 - 07/05/13 08:46 AM

As some others are noting, last night proved fairly good over most of the Northeastern states. At my southeast NY location, in what today has become extreme outer suburbs/semi-rural residential, I experienced a NLM of +6.0 (certainly not great, but better than many summer nights) most of the evening, allowing quite a bit to be accomplished.

Unfortunately, it already looks like the favorable westward progress of the Bermuda High's influence is waning, with clouds and rain associated with the upper level jet stream trough starting to slowly progress eastward once more. Thus, odds favor that last night could be it for meaningful observing conditions in NY-New England for tonite and thereafter (some of the coast far to our south is already cloud covered this morning).

BrooksObs

Edited by BrooksObs (07/05/13 08:49 AM)


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Tony Flanders
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/18/06

Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: Summer Observing In US Northeast - Is it Possible? new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #5955820 - 07/05/13 10:18 AM

Quote:

Well, as Tony and several others have commented, last evening was passable along much of the East Coast (I personally experienced just enough left over very thin cirrus to negate serious work, however).




The pattern moved in from the east, so it's not surprising that conditions were better in Boston than 150 miles west in New York State.

Quote:

What has happened is that the strong Bermuda high pressure system that has been holding everything up for near two weeks has finally moved some...but westward toward our shores!




This vividly illustrates a point made by Phil Creed in his article on stargazing forecasts: it's not the humidity that's a problem but rather the pollutants that build up inside the humid air, promoting the formation of transparency-killing aerosols.

It continues to be as humid as ever, but the transparency for the past 24 hours has been surprisingly good -- presumably because this Bermuda high is fresh off the ocean. If it sits around for another day or two, however, industrial emissions and automobile exhaust will build up within it and cause the transparency to plummet.


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REC
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/20/10

Loc: NC
Re: Summer Observing In US Northeast - Is it Possible? new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #5955835 - 07/05/13 10:31 AM

It's been raining here in NC for 2 weeks straight. The 7 day forecast shows the same pattern. I was in CA for a week last month and it was clear and 72* everyday! I should have stayed there another week.

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JoeR
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Columbus, OH
Re: Summer Observing In US Northeast - Is it Possible? new [Re: REC]
      #5955890 - 07/05/13 10:58 AM

All I know is Ohio is the absolute worst state in the country for weather. Much worse than the Pacific Northwest. We've now had a staggering 15 days in a row of rain and the extended 10 day forecast calls for, you guessed it, LOTS of rain. The average cloudy skies here is 293 days a year. That's 293 out of 365! Plus we have no true dark skies the light pollution is everywhere. Even in rural areas light domes are inescapable.

To make matters wrose, the clearest nights we had all year happed during the full mooon cycle and the summer solstice!


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csrlice12
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Summer Observing In US Northeast - Is it Possible? new [Re: JoeR]
      #5955902 - 07/05/13 11:03 AM

Nowhere is immune. Even here in Denver, perfectly clear skies all day long. Then, as the sun begins to set, the clouds roll in.....Pretty much every day so far this summer.

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lamplight
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 09/18/12

Loc: western MA, U.S.
Re: Summer Observing In US Northeast - Is it Possible? new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5957036 - 07/06/13 01:54 AM

3 months of rain. And The winter sucked. The daily forcast is thunderstorms for like 3 months. Like many, ive never seen this before. Good movie : chasing ice. Last couple nights was fair though. Praise be!

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Tony Flanders
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/18/06

Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: Summer Observing In US Northeast - Is it Possible? new [Re: JoeR]
      #5957175 - 07/06/13 07:56 AM

Quote:

All I know is Ohio is the absolute worst state in the country for weather. Much worse than the Pacific Northwest.




This entire thread is suffering from severe "grass is greener on the other side" syndrome. To put it another way, we tend to remember the bad and forget the good -- and think that if we could somehow change our circumstances all the bad would up and disappear. 'Taint so!

If you think Ohio is bad, give Alaska a whirl. Cloudy all the time, too bright to observe for half the year, and too cold the other half.

As it happens, Columbus Ohio has a rather low percentage of possible sunshine (50%), but by no means out of line for an eastern state. The best cities on the East Coast get about 60%. See chart here.


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BrooksObs
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/08/12

Re: Summer Observing In US Northeast - Is it Possible? new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5957402 - 07/06/13 11:48 AM

I would fully concur with Tony's conclusion that folks are making out their situations to be far worse than they actually must be, likely picking and choosing only some certain few weekend nights they wish to observe during. When these happen to turn out unfavorable they insist their conditions have been hopeless for months.

In NY's Hudson Valley, known for its poor weather, I managed 93 observing nights (pre midnight) over the past year. This does not include probably another 25-30 clear nights not used, since I do not normally observe if the moon's age exceeds 8 days up until the first moonless evening after full moon. In addition, this past year has seen a considerable number of nights that were clear after midnight, when I don't observe either.

Yes, I'll readily admit that clear skies come less frequently than they used to a couple of decades back and that they certainly do vary in number from year to year randomly. But the claims of endless months of unbroken cloudy nights just cannot be taken as realistic and is not reflected in the observing logs of other serious hobbyists I'm familiar with around the country.

BrooksObs

Edited by BrooksObs (07/06/13 11:49 AM)


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bherv
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 03/10/06

Loc: WMass
Re: Summer Observing In US Northeast - Is it Possible? new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #5958360 - 07/07/13 01:02 AM Attachment (3 downloads)

I have had many clear nights on weekends near the new moon over the past year or so. I am observing tonight at Arunah Hill in the Berkshire Hills of western MA. Last year I observed 8 consecutive months up here. This is the third time this year. Despite what the CSC forecasted for tonight. The sky is clear and the transparency is above average. I find that the CSC is often inaccurate. Being at 2000 feet of elevation also helps by being above a lot of the haze and humidity that plagues valley locations.
Barry


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Bakes
super member


Reged: 01/06/09

Loc: Stratford, CT
Re: Summer Observing In US Northeast - Is it Possible? new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #5958371 - 07/07/13 01:12 AM

For me the problem is not so much cloudy nights. But rather bad seeing/transparency. The last three nights here in CT have been absolutely cloudless. Unfortunately, I am unable to make out the bowl stars of the Big Dipper due to haze. Vega, directly overhead as I type this, is scintillating madly. DSOs, close double stars, and planetary details are not resolvable under these conditions.

Getting back to the original thread question, what kind of observing is possible during summer heat and haze? I would be interested in what kind of observing opportunities exist under such conditions.

I hate to see any clear night go to waste!


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