Weather & Observing : Related Links
Posted 23 July 2007 - 01:53 PM
I observe from the southern Gulf Coast of Louisiana, just a handful of miles from the Gulf Of Mexico. As such, weather can change dramatically in a short period of time as weather systems develop over the Gulf and move inland. So, I have learned to consult and interpet many different sources of meteorlogical data in an effort (sometimes futile) to predict good opportunities for observing. Hopefully these links will prove useful to others as well.
No list of weather-related observing links would be complete without Atilla Danko's Clear Sky Clock. This is probably the most comprehensive data set of astronomy-related weather information on the web (for the layman) :
Clear Sky Clock - http://cleardarksky.com/csk/
AstroForecast is a source of transparency predictions for various locations around the world. You can contact AstroForecast and request a transparency model for your local area.
AstroForecast - http://astroforecast.org:8080/
The National Weather Service is always a good place to start when it comes to weather prediction (of course!). There is much useful information there. Poking around through the various nooks and crannies of the site will reveal some very interesting and useful tools for the astronomer. Some of this info is quite advanced and some is streamlined for more general public consumption.
NWS - http://www.weather.gov/
While not strictly "weather related", this tool can be used to help predict mosquito activity. This link is brought to you by the Weather Channel.
Mosquito Activity Forecast - http://www.weather.c...arden/mosquito/
The Intellicast SkyWatch tool shows "viewing conditions" around the country in an easy to read map format. While not very specific, it is a good rough gauge of the sky's "clearness" in your local area. And like the NWS, Intellicast has a very comprehensive website - be sure to surf around it and check out some of the other weather tools.
Intellicast SkyWatch - http://www.intellica...tdoors/Sky.aspx
The most basic of observing conditions is darkness. Is it dark yet in your area of the world? Where is the sun currently shining on the globe? Consult this neat map to see exactly where the sun is shining and darkness has fallen on the Earth.
World Sunlight Map - http://www.die.net/earth/
Solar Terrestrial Dispatch is an invaluable tool for Solar observers, aurora watchers, and those interested in the fascinating interaction between our local star and Earth's atmosphere. If it's solar-related, this site has it.
Solar Terrestrial Dispatch - http://spacew.com/
SpaceWeather.com is exactly what the name and URL suggests - a clearinghouse of weather data as it relates to Earth, Earth's atmosphere, and Earth's immediate neighborhood in the solar system. This includes information on noctilucent clouds, aurorae, coronal activity, sunspots, meteor showers and more.
SpaceWeather.com - http://spaceweather.com/
The NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration) is another invaluable source of weather data. Specifically, NOAA controls the GOES Satellite system which monitors and images the Earth's weather patterns. This is the place to go for satellite images of visible clouds, water vapor, and infrared imagery. This link is to NOAA's "Satellite & Information Service" division. There is something here for everyone, from amateur weather watcher to the advanced meterologist-wannabe.
NOAA SIS - http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/PS/index.html
NOAA also provides the GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites) network - arguably the best source for satellite images of the North American continent.
NOAA GOES SERVER - http://www.goes.noaa.gov/
Let's get more advanced now. Clouds and water vapor are not the only atmospheric factors that influence observing weather. Smoke, haze, aerosols and other airborne particulates and pollutants can greatly effect the transparency of the sky. From the website : "IDEA (Infusing satellite Data into Environmental Applications) is a partnership between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in an effort to improve air quality assessment, management, and prediction by infusing satellite measurements (from NASA) into analyses (by EPA and NOAA) for public benefit."
When used in conjunction with the Clear Sky Clock and GOES imagery, IDEA can be a potent tool to determine transparency well in advance of the night's observing.
IDEA - http://idea.ssec.wisc.edu/
The US Military also has some great weather tools. This tool is the NRL Aerosol Page. It tracks the path of various aerosols in the Earth's atmosphere. This is a great companion tool to the IDEA page. There is a lot of information on this site, so be sure to poke around and have a look at the various products they offer. Just don't click on "Restricted Access Products" or a Black Helicopter may land in your front yard.
US Navy NRL Aerosol Page - http://www.nrlmry.navy.mil/aerosol/
Another GOES tool, this one is worth mentioning - The GOES Aerosol and Smoke Product. (GASP!) It tracks smoke and aerosols - from forest fires, industry, and other sources.
GOES GASP - http://www.ssd.noaa..../GASP/gasp.html
NASA brings us atmospheric data from the TOMS (Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer) satellite. This shows global "hot spots" of Ozone and particulate concentrations. If you are located under one of these hot spots, then it's a safe bet your transparency is going to be bad.
NASA "Today's Aerosol Conditions" - http://jwocky.gsfc.n...today_aero.html
The air can effect astronomical seeing, but it can also effect your health. Use this tool to determine local air quality in your area. It's also not a bad gauge of transparency, since air that is bad to breathe is also bad to look through.
EPA "Air Now" Home - http://www.airnow.go...ion=airnow.main
Pilots and Astronomers have one thing in common - they both need the latest information regarding the conditions present in the Earth's atmosphere. This page is targeted towards pilots, but has many tools of use to the ground-based astronomer. This link is ADDS - Aviation Digital Data Service.
NOAA ADDS - http://adds.aviationweather.gov/
One specific ADDS tool is of interest to astronomers. Atmospheric seeing is quite hard to predict, and unlike transparency which has several different tools available to the observer, seeing can involve a lot of guesswork. Well, seeing is intimately related to the motion of air in the atmosphere - and this can manifest in the form of "turbulence" which can make one's flight a harrowing experience or a pleasureable ride. While turbulence does not strictly dictate seeing, it is a good gauge. If there is an area of bad turbulence above your viewing area, it's a safe bet your eyepiece views are going to suffer.
ADDS Turbulence Maps - http://adds.aviation...gov/turbulence/
Weather Underground has some nice tools for your website. Including buttons and banners which display local weather information in near real-time. They also have information specifically geared towards astronomers.
Weather Underground - http://www.wunderground.com/
Put all of these tools together, and you can make an online "weather station" of sorts for your own personal use. Feel free to take a look at mine and borrow some ideas or code.
Glassthrower's Weather Page - http://www.glassthrower.com/houma.html
I have more weather links laying around, and I will share them as I find them.
Good luck and clear dark skies!
Posted 11 August 2010 - 09:08 AM
- Vesper818 likes this
Posted 30 November 2016 - 03:52 PM
Great suggestions for on-line sources of weather data.
I would like to hear about some recommendations of weather instruments one can use at home that are accurate in their readings.
Posted 04 March 2017 - 03:22 PM
Need some help here. My weather forecast says I'll have a clear, cool night with low humidity. However, there may be some problems; there was frost covering the ground, in addition to some snow flurries this morning. There are only a few small, shallow patches of snow left on the ground that I doubt will go away before sunset. I'll also have to deal with winds just above 10 mph for an hour or two tonight (it should calm down by about 10 or 11). Will this snow or the wind be a hazard to my scope if I set it up tonight? Thanks.