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*New* Astrospheric forecast updates

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#1 moab360

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Posted 29 August 2018 - 01:49 PM

Astrospheric

Advanced weather forecasting for North American astronomers
overview.jpg
 

Website  |  Android App  |  iOS App

 

Hi fellow astronomers,
 
I’m happy to announce that the forecast on Astrospheric will now be updating every 6 hours (4 times a day).  This will hopefully bring more accurate forecasts for all.
 
I’m personally very excited about this update.  I usually drive several hours to get to my favorite dark sites and by the time I get there I’m well outside cell signal.  This generally means I would get a new forecast in the morning, leave for the dark site after work, and be out of cell signal by the time a new forecast was being published during my drive.  While the Canadian Meteorological Center's (CMC’s) forecast is very accurate (for my area it has been the most accurate), going over 12 hours without a CMC forecast update always makes me nervous.  Now, I’ll have an additional high quality forecast to help me make a final go/no-go decision before making any drive smile.gif
 
Technically, this update has taken me a few months to get into place and is powered by a new server component I’ve been writing from the ground up to process raw weather data.  Astrospheric now reasons over about a billion data points every day, and makes it all searchable within a matter of seconds.  The map overlays are also updating 4 times a day as well.
 
Of course a big thanks goes out to the Canadian Meteorological center for making the raw RDPS forecast model available.  The work Allan Rahill and team have done is really outstanding.
 
One item to note - While the forecast will be generate every 6 hours, Seeing (Scintillation) will continue to be computed every 12 hours. You’ll see a small gap in Seeing at the end of the 48 hour forecast a few times a day.  This issue will be corrected in the coming months once Astrospheric begins processing the Seeing model independently.
 
Other data changes:
The “classic” transparency forecast produced by Allan Rahill has been replaced by the Astrospheric Enhanced transparency forecast (you can learn more about that here).  It is no longer possible to integrate the classic data in a 48 hour forecast, but it is still possible to view the classic data on the map.  If this is an issue for you, please let me know.  Alternatively, if you’re near a Clear Sky Chart and need the classic transparency data, that is also an option.
 
Here are the approximate update times in the larger time zones (add/subtract if you fall outside a timezone listed below).  These are estimates based on average times CMC has made the RDPS model data available.  These times are currently in daylight savings and shift forward an hour once daylight savings is not being observed.
 
updatetimes.png
* = Seeing (Scintillation) updated in this forecast.

That’s all for now.  Please let me know if you have any feedback.
Clear skies!


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#2 RyanSem

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Posted 29 August 2018 - 01:59 PM

Awesome! Great to see this app receiving such frequent quality updates, it's definitely the best one I've found out there!


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#3 Codbear

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Posted 29 August 2018 - 03:09 PM

Awesome! Great to see this app receiving such frequent quality updates, it's definitely the best one I've found out there!

I totally agree. I found this app from a recommendation on this forum and it's been very helpful in planning observing sessions, especially with your added information about the smoke out here in California.


Edited by Codbear, 29 August 2018 - 08:11 PM.

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#4 moab360

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Posted 29 August 2018 - 05:31 PM

FYI, this is what a forecast looks like from one of the new runs.  Mostly looks the same, but I wanted to call out how the Seeing row runs out of data near the end.  As called out above, this is expected behavior.  All other variables have been updated and marched forward another 6 hours, and Seeing will catch up during the next run.  If you click an hour where seeing isn't available you'll see the legend switch to "Not Calculated"

 

forecast.jpg


Edited by moab360, 29 August 2018 - 05:32 PM.


#5 lbim

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Posted 29 August 2018 - 06:30 PM

Thank you moab360 for you work. It is very useful for our club to plan future outreach events. Your work is very much appreciated.

 

LBIM


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#6 moab360

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Posted 31 August 2018 - 04:48 PM

Thanks all and I'm glad you're finding the service useful!  It's been humbling to watch the astronomy community adopt the tool.

 

I wanted to note that the update times listed above are a rough approximation.  While the CMC is a pretty reliable data source for raw weather data, from time to time their data warehouse will be slow or miss data all together.  Usually these data outages are fixed by the next model run, but sometimes not.  Anyways, given the amount of people now using Astrospheric, I've started to put together a status page so folks know where the data is in the pipeline.  I'll update again when this is available.

 

I should probably also say that if you want to follow me on Facebook (if you're into that kind of thing) you'll find my page at https://www.facebook.com/astrospheric/.  I plan on posting interesting videos and other content Astrospheric and its users create going forward.


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#7 Astro_BC

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Posted 01 September 2018 - 09:21 AM

This app is great, and keeps getting better. Now if it could only create clear skies for me!

Is there some way to buy/donate to this effort?
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#8 moab360

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Posted 01 September 2018 - 05:02 PM

This app is great, and keeps getting better. Now if it could only create clear skies for me!

Is there some way to buy/donate to this effort?

I keep wanting to build a video game where you can zap clouds from space

 

I've actually got some "pay for play" features coming soon.  One is to enable notifications for your favorite locations to get updates on weather and aurora (aurora forecast coming soon fyi).  The other is an idea to allow organizations to post star party info (for a small fee) onto the map so folks nearby can see that it's going on.  Until then, just enjoy and tell other folks about the app :)


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#9 44maurer

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Posted 02 September 2018 - 05:22 PM

bow.gif bow.gif bow.gif


Edited by 44maurer, 02 September 2018 - 05:23 PM.

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#10 mike8888

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Posted 11 September 2018 - 05:41 PM

Awesome! Great to see this app receiving such frequent quality updates, it's definitely the best one I've found out there!

+1 to being an excellent app - my go to resource!


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#11 wboeck

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Posted 20 December 2018 - 05:38 PM

The app is excellent. Is there any plans on providing a darkness level similar to clear skies and sky tools? Showing the location and phases of the moon is nice but a darkness level based on Rhodes features would be nice.

Thanks
Wayne
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#12 moab360

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 01:10 PM

The app is excellent. Is there any plans on providing a darkness level similar to clear skies and sky tools? Showing the location and phases of the moon is nice but a darkness level based on Rhodes features would be nice.

Thanks
Wayne

Good idea, Wayne.  I'll read up on the calculation and see what else is necessary to do the darkness estimation.  



#13 wboeck

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 10:37 PM

Thanks

I meant those instead of Rhodes. The phone automatically changes spelling.

 

Wayne



#14 star drop

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 11:00 PM

Is there enough atmospheric data available to forecast contrail probabilities?


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#15 moab360

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 12:23 AM

Is there enough atmospheric data available to forecast contrail probabilities?

That's a really interesting question.  Doing a bit of reading it seems that the main factor in duration and size of a jet engine/wing contrail is the relative humidity at the altitude of the jet (source).  I can technically compute the relative humidity forecast at different altitudes so some model could likely be put together to estimate how strong contrails could be.  It seems at some point NASA put together a contrail forecast but I'm unable to find a working link to the tool, just various sources noting that it exists.  If anyone has a link they could share it would be appreciated.

 

The Transparency forecast on Astrospheric is highly dependent on the relative humidity in the column of air above you.  So if the forecast calls for below average transparency then there is a higher chance for contrails (based on the science linked above), although this statement is definitely not tested. 

 

All this said, I think an ideal model would track air traffic paths, altitude, and time, then merge that together with the appropriate forecasted humidity for the parcel of air the plane is moving through.  Anyways, I'll do a bit more reading on the subject.  

 

Are you often impacted by contrails?  I imagine location relative to airports plays a major role.



#16 star drop

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 03:18 PM

Yes, contrails are a big problem here. Another thing about a contrail. The formation of one sometimes acts like a nucleation site if conditions are favorable and then the entire susceptible air mass gets hazy.




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