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Significance of Effect of Clouds On the Visibility of the Milky Way

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#1 BLUSky

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Posted 15 October 2021 - 12:39 AM

Hello everyone, I am new to the Cloudy Nights Forum and I am also relatively new to Visual Astronomy. So last time I went on a holiday and I went to a very remote place which has a Bortle 2 sky(source:Clear Outside app). I checked on google and it said that there was almost no moon(the percentage is below 10% but I forgot the exact number). However, when I arrived there and waited until night I could not see the Milky Way's core, even when I viewed the correct way by checking the Stellarium app. So I want to ask to what extent can clouds affect the visibility of the Milky Way. Because I checked on the Clear Outside app(when the Milky Way was above the horizon) and it showed a red time with a high amount of high clouds(above 80), medium clouds below 10 and low clouds which if I remember correctly was not much(dark blue on Clear Outside app). Before this trip I did not pay much attention to the variable of clouds because I thought you could at least see through them and maybe there would be gaps between them that would allow me to at least get a glimpse of the Milky Way. I would also like to ask whether maybe it wasn't the clouds that caused the Milky Way to not be able to be seen and maybe it was some other factor. To add information, there was almost no local light pollution.  Addition: The location was in the Southern Hemisphere

 

Thank You


Edited by BLUSky, 15 October 2021 - 12:41 AM.


#2 ButterFly

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Posted 15 October 2021 - 12:52 AM

Clouds are jet black at a dark site.  Clouds are lit up by light pollution, and lightning.  The stars only appear thorugh the breaks in the clouds.  For someone who gre up in NYC like I did, seeing a mostly cloudy sky at a dark site was rather awesome.  The clouds were jet black and the whiter parts of the sky (the place with no clouds) looked like they had stars in them.  As a result, it looked like the stars were only in the clouds.  The clouds I am used to are bright.


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#3 chanrobi

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Posted 15 October 2021 - 01:36 AM

Clouds are invisible at a true dark site



#4 LDW47

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Posted 15 October 2021 - 08:30 AM

Hello everyone, I am new to the Cloudy Nights Forum and I am also relatively new to Visual Astronomy. So last time I went on a holiday and I went to a very remote place which has a Bortle 2 sky(source:Clear Outside app). I checked on google and it said that there was almost no moon(the percentage is below 10% but I forgot the exact number). However, when I arrived there and waited until night I could not see the Milky Way's core, even when I viewed the correct way by checking the Stellarium app. So I want to ask to what extent can clouds affect the visibility of the Milky Way. Because I checked on the Clear Outside app(when the Milky Way was above the horizon) and it showed a red time with a high amount of high clouds(above 80), medium clouds below 10 and low clouds which if I remember correctly was not much(dark blue on Clear Outside app). Before this trip I did not pay much attention to the variable of clouds because I thought you could at least see through them and maybe there would be gaps between them that would allow me to at least get a glimpse of the Milky Way. I would also like to ask whether maybe it wasn't the clouds that caused the Milky Way to not be able to be seen and maybe it was some other factor. To add information, there was almost no local light pollution.  Addition: The location was in the Southern Hemisphere

 

Thank You

So you could not see the MW's core but you could still see stars in all the other sections of the sky  Do you ask that with a telescope can you see through cloud cover to see stars / MW's core  Please explain one more time in a shorter paragraph


Edited by LDW47, 15 October 2021 - 08:31 AM.


#5 Voyageur

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Posted 15 October 2021 - 09:07 AM

Hello everyone, I am new to the Cloudy Nights Forum and I am also relatively new to Visual Astronomy. So last time I went on a holiday and I went to a very remote place which has a Bortle 2 sky(source:Clear Outside app). I checked on google and it said that there was almost no moon(the percentage is below 10% but I forgot the exact number). However, when I arrived there and waited until night I could not see the Milky Way's core, even when I viewed the correct way by checking the Stellarium app. So I want to ask to what extent can clouds affect the visibility of the Milky Way. Because I checked on the Clear Outside app(when the Milky Way was above the horizon) and it showed a red time with a high amount of high clouds(above 80), medium clouds below 10 and low clouds which if I remember correctly was not much(dark blue on Clear Outside app). Before this trip I did not pay much attention to the variable of clouds because I thought you could at least see through them and maybe there would be gaps between them that would allow me to at least get a glimpse of the Milky Way. I would also like to ask whether maybe it wasn't the clouds that caused the Milky Way to not be able to be seen and maybe it was some other factor. To add information, there was almost no local light pollution.  Addition: The location was in the Southern Hemisphere

 

Thank You

 

If a viewing site is truly remote, away from the sky glow of a big city and from local sources of light pollution, and there are no clouds, there is no reason that you wouldn't be able to see the Milky Way, assuming it's placed in the sky at that date and time and that your vision is okay. 

 

When the cloud cover is broken, it's possible to get glimpses of celestial objects through transient gaps in the clouds, but this is not very satisfying. The clouds may be moving rather quickly, so it's difficult to aim your scope or even know where to look naked eye. On that kind of a night, you might go out with binoculars for a quick look, or if your scope is permanently set up, you might pop out to check for breaks, but most of us would not go to the trouble of setting up our equipment on a mostly cloudy night.

 

Perhaps I misunderstood your post, but I am puzzled about your statement that you "thought you could at least see through" the clouds. A telescope cannot see though clouds any more than your eyes can.

 

This hobby can be frustrating with its dependence on clear skies and good seeing, but I'd say keep trying.



#6 csrlice12

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Posted 15 October 2021 - 10:08 AM

A slight haze with no wind can sometimes help on planets, but it's still death to nebulas and DSOs....There are 2 basic conditions that affect viewing, seeing and transparency.  Seeing is affected by winds, clouds, humidity...good seeing usually means good planetary viewing.  Transparency is basically how clean is the air...pollution, dust, etc...good transparency usually means that DSOs will be viewable.   Getting both at the same time....marvelous.


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#7 PatrickVt

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Posted 15 October 2021 - 10:36 AM

When you create a product that can see through clouds, you could make a fortune on astronomers alone.  

 

We cannot see through clouds.  What happens when clouds pass in front of our own star, the Sun?  It creates shade and you no longer can see the sun.  The same occurs at night.  It does not take much of a cloud cover (in density/thickness/depth) to obscure all those very distant stars.  80% cloud coverage leaves little to nothing to see.  When you add in that additional 10% of lower cloud cover, you likely won't see a thing because that lower cloud cover will likely obscure what might not be obscured by the high cloud cover.

At a dark site, you do not need to search for stars or wonder how to see the stars.  Even if you don't look up at first, the stars will be so prominent and dazzling that it will capture your peripheral vision and you will instinctively look up.  The sky will be so filled with stars that you will have difficulty navigating from star to star.  The Milky Way will be plainly visible.  You will even see faint color in the sky at a dark site.  If you saw nothing, the sky was obscured by clouds.  

 

One final note worth mentioning is that Clear Outside is rarely accurate for my area so don't put all your faith in that app being accurate.  It might be accurate for some areas of the world but I can tell you that it is rarely even okay for my neck of the woods.  

 

Patrick


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#8 drd715

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Posted 15 October 2021 - 10:53 AM

Depending upon date and time you have to be able to see Scorpio and Sagittarius to see the "Core" (the central position of our Galaxy).  In certain seasons the central core of our Galaxy is not above the night horizon. 


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#9 KBHornblower

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Posted 15 October 2021 - 11:34 AM

I have seen conditions where the only evidence of scattered clouds was the absence of familiar stars or parts of the Milky Way.  Without local light, the clouds may be darker than the clear sky between them.



#10 1SYZYGY1

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Posted 15 October 2021 - 08:24 PM

Wow the whole thing about clouds being invisible or jet black at a true dark sky site at night is almost frightening.
I had no idea the whitish clouds I see at night is due to light pollution .. that’s just as frightening.
If I was ever at a site that dark I think I’d soil my drawers.
Mont Megantic in Canada has been in my crosshairs for a few years and is on my bucket list.

#11 Illinois

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 05:24 AM

I remember I see black hole in the sky. Wow! Look like a hole in the sky!  I was in my car and I turn off light ….. wow! I don’t see anything.  Image that you can’t drive in dark sky without light.  If your car’s lights don’t work then you can’t drive and wait until sun raise. Many times I forget turn light on in Chicago at night! That’s bad light pollution! 


Edited by Illinois, 16 October 2021 - 05:25 AM.


#12 BLUSky

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 07:14 AM

Thank you everyone for replying to my question. In this reply I will try and provide answers to follow up questions. 

 

Replying to:

 

LDW47, Yes that is correct. I can see quite a few stars all around. Though if I remember correctly I could only see part of the Orion constellation, leading me to think that the constellation was just an L shape(the belt was visible). I am asking whether you can see it with the naked eye. 

Voyageur, what I mean is that when in day time even if there are some clouds you could still see some blue out of them, therefore I thought it would apply the same to the Milky Way. But perhaps those were low amount low clouds. I also thought that given on the Clear Outside app the clouds were not 100%, you could at least see through the gaps. But then again we should ignore that because I only went out periodically and it was rather cold and unsettling to stay in a Bortle 2 sky with a tall hill right in front of you and a bunch of trees. Which means that I didn't allocate proper time to actually try and see the Milky Way through the gaps in the clouds.

 

1SYZYGY1, I can agree with the clouds being "invisible". As I could see stars in other sections of the sky, it looked like there were absolutely no clouds. And I think it is quite shocking to be in a Bortle 7/8 sky and the next night you are in a Bortle 2 sky. It feels like a mini-jumpscare.

 

In conclusion, thank you everyone for replying. On my next Milky Way hunt I will be sure to take into account the weather also. 


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#13 LDW47

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 12:57 PM

Thank you everyone for replying to my question. In this reply I will try and provide answers to follow up questions. 

 

Replying to:

 

LDW47, Yes that is correct. I can see quite a few stars all around. Though if I remember correctly I could only see part of the Orion constellation, leading me to think that the constellation was just an L shape(the belt was visible). I am asking whether you can see it with the naked eye. 

Voyageur, what I mean is that when in day time even if there are some clouds you could still see some blue out of them, therefore I thought it would apply the same to the Milky Way. But perhaps those were low amount low clouds. I also thought that given on the Clear Outside app the clouds were not 100%, you could at least see through the gaps. But then again we should ignore that because I only went out periodically and it was rather cold and unsettling to stay in a Bortle 2 sky with a tall hill right in front of you and a bunch of trees. Which means that I didn't allocate proper time to actually try and see the Milky Way through the gaps in the clouds.

 

1SYZYGY1, I can agree with the clouds being "invisible". As I could see stars in other sections of the sky, it looked like there were absolutely no clouds. And I think it is quite shocking to be in a Bortle 7/8 sky and the next night you are in a Bortle 2 sky. It feels like a mini-jumpscare.

 

In conclusion, thank you everyone for replying. On my next Milky Way hunt I will be sure to take into account the weather also. 

And the time of year for a hunt for the MW's core, thats a key point



#14 Tony Flanders

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 08:35 PM

I doubt that what I'm about to say is relevant to your predicament, but it does seem worth saying anyway.

The Milky Way's core is in fact invisible from Earth, being blocked from view by a completely different kind of cloud -- the great clouds of dust that lie along the Milky Way's central plane. It can be imaged by radio telescopes, because radio waves penetrate interstellar dust. But it is utterly invisible in the wavelengths that human eyes can see. On a clear night, the area right around the core looks almost black due to the huge concentration of interstellar dust in that part of our galaxy.
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#15 viewer

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 11:23 PM

Clouds are the ultimate "ruiners" of transparency. Did some search, and they aren't even usually mentioned when discussing transparency, probably because their impact are so great, placing them in a category of their own.



#16 BLUSky

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 07:56 PM

Clouds are the ultimate "ruiners" of transparency. Did some search, and they aren't even usually mentioned when discussing transparency, probably because their impact are so great, placing them in a category of their own.

Yes when I just started to research on how to see the Milky Way only a few websites(that I remember) mentioned clouds as an important factor on being able to see the Milky Way. Most of the websites just placed importance on light pollution and the moon. 



#17 viewer

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 11:03 AM

Clouds are massive deposits of condensed water vapor, making the sky impermeable to direct light: the sun, moon, planets, stars, milky way, you name it, the light getting badly scattered and hence you can't see the object. Not to be forgotten about bawling.gif. Back to the basics smile.gif


Edited by viewer, 18 October 2021 - 11:16 AM.


#18 Tony Flanders

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 08:22 PM

Yes when I just started to research on how to see the Milky Way only a few websites(that I remember) mentioned clouds as an important factor on being able to see the Milky Way. Most of the websites just placed importance on light pollution and the moon.


I must admit that I was pretty baffled by the base note in this string -- and also by the quoted posting. Of course nobody mentions that you can't see the Milky Way through clouds -- it seems utterly obvious. Do they also have to state that you need to keep your eyes open rather than closed, or that you need to look up to the sky rather than down toward the ground? Or that you can't see the Milky Way during daylight hours?


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#19 viewer

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 12:53 PM

They could mention even thin clouds can prevent you from seeing the milky way. But if the site is just about light pollution, well, then they can mention the "limited pespective" smile.gif


Edited by viewer, 19 October 2021 - 12:58 PM.


#20 Escape Pod

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Posted 25 October 2021 - 12:11 AM

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clear skies :)




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