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Astronomy on a Cloudy Night



Ask any astronomer what most frustrating thing about the pursuit is, and they will likely give you an answer along the lines of ‘cloud.’ I always quite liked clouds, especially those fluffy ones like on the title credits of the Simpsons (puts on Nerd Hat, straightens bow tie, clears throat “I think you’ll find those are called Cumulus clouds.” Takes off hat, gets back into cupboard under stairs) so, naturally, when I was warned about what a menace they were, I was sceptical. Let me tell you, a menace they are. This weekend’s viewing was defined by my telescope racing to clear spots to try and pinpoint an object before the cloud closed in. Not very successfully I might add. So what was once my friend as a photography has become my enemy as an astronomer. But then, I will have to wind my neck in and accept that some nights will just go that way. In the grand scheme of things, a clouded off astronomy session is not a big deal, particularly as I have a shameful collection of DVDs of other people doing astronomy for when I can’t.

So clouds are truly the enemy of free thinking astronomers everywhere, and I have myself spent  more time shaking my fist and cursing at clouds in the sky than actually looking at anything in it. Still, it’s given me scope to be very inventive with my curse words. Perhaps every cloud does indeed have a silver lining.


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I'm currently cursing the rain! Clear Outside is saying that my next expected clear night isn't until Sunday :(

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Posted (edited)

We do seem to have had more than our fair share of clouds over the past couple of years and it can be a tad frustrating. However, I feel the clouds do prevent this wonderful hobby from becoming tiresome as we appreciate the clear nights, and days, when they eventually come along.

Imagine how horrid it woul be to have wonderfully clear conditions on tap !!!!!

Edited by Pig
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I never paid much attention to the weather forecast until I got my telescope. It's very sad at the moment with little hope on the horizon for a good clear night. I do, however, agree with @Pig. If it was clear all the time then it would be easy to take it for granted. It's the evenings spent reading forum posts, books and planning the next session that all add to the excitement when the clouds finally do clear. The only problem I have is that I then try to fit 3 weeks worth of viewing into 1 night! Especially difficult with the short summer nights! 

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I totally agree! Even for the short time that I've been astronomising (definitely made that word up!) cloudy skies has taught me the virtue of patience. It's a nice way to look at it @Pig and @Littleguy80, that it's even more special when a clear night comes along.

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