Weather Station Details and Astronomy Related Weather Links

Weather Station Details

The Pumpkin Patch Observatory's automated weather instruments consist of a Davis Vantage Pro2 wireless weather station and an AAG CloudWatcher. Note that the anemometer is not ideally located, and may not give accurate wind speed readings for all directions. Ambient Weather's Windows-based Virtual Weather Station is used to acquire data from the Vantage Pro2, generate the graphics and html, and update this website at one minute intervals. The observatory's all sky camera images the local sky conditions day and night. Yes, amateur astronomy in the UK can morph somewhat into a weather forecasting hobby...

Weather Resources

As you might expect the primary weather factors affecting astronomy in the UK are clouds and the overall transparency of the sky, however there are two other important factors that impact imaging: a) the "Seeing" - a term referring to the effects on imaging resolution of atmospheric turbulence, and b) ground level wind - which can affect the stability of a telescope. Another major issue is light pollution, both man-made and natural (the moon), that can have a greater or lesser impact depending on the sky transparency. These factors place limits on the faintness of objects that can be imaged and the exposure time required to get to acceptable levels of signal (brighness and contrast) for a given object.

The Met Office, BBC and Meteoblue are the three main forecast services I use for local weather. MeteoGroup has now replaced the Met Office as the BBC's main weather data provider. If the Met Office and Metoblue forecast agree then their prediction is typically accurate, otherwise make your own guess. I find a practical approach to forecast the coming night's sky conditions is to use a combination of the the Met Office regional forecast, Meteoblue's Cloud and Seeing forecast and most importantly the latest satellite animation from Sat24. Display of these items being integrated into the other tabs in this section of the website.

UK and Local Cambridgeshire Weather Links

Specialist Astronomy Forecasts

  • 7Timer ASTRO astronomy forecast hosted by the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory. This is a global service for the amateur astronomy community developed by Ye Quanzhi. Similar in scope to the North American Clear Sky Clock. ASTRO provides a widget for cloud, transparency and seeing forecasts over the next 36 hours at your location. The local cloud forecast element has proven to be relatively unreliable for the UK.
  • Meteoblue Astronomical Seeing prediction. A free three day seeing forecast with arcecond resolution prediction.
  • Metcheck Astronomy Forecast Forecast for the coming week's cloud coverage and seeing prediction with pickering scale indication.

Satellite Imaging Feeds

  • Sat24 UK & Europe satellite images. Medium resolution looping display of last 2 hours, updated every 15 minutes, with no delays. Useful to keep track of the clouds as the night progresses. Most other satellite image sources are delayed by between a half and a full hour.
  • EUMETSAT Western Europe FOG product. This is a particularly useful service when low cloud and foggy conditions occur. It displays false colour cloud images generated from a combination of spectral bands. Optimized for night time use, it can identify low clouds that are not visible in typical IR satellite images. It also provides higher resolution than the EUMETSAT IR and vis band pages. Updated hourly with half hour delay.
  • Meteoblue European 3 day synthetic IR cloud forecast animation and alternative smaller synthetic visible cloud forecast animation.

Miscellaneous Resources

  Site contents and all images are Copyright © Paul Beskeen