Sunday, 11 April 2010

Forecasters' idea of a 'clear sky' vs my idea of a clear sky!

Just recently, I have got more than a little annoyed and frustrated with the weather forecasters' less-than-accurate definition of "clear skies". To me, as to any other amateur astronomer, a clear sky DOES NOT mean murk, high cloud and other general crap obscuring the view of all but the brightest stars and planets. I am so fed up with reading on the forecasters' web sites (including the BBC) and hearing and seeing the weather bulletins on TV and radio promising "clear skies" only for it to be haze and murk with only a few bloated, bright stars and planets visible and all but the very brightest star clusters wiped out.
Okay, I understand that Joe and Jane Public don't give a toss about astronomy and that, as long as shadows are cast during the day and they see the odd star or two or the Moon (when around) at night then, to them, that constitutes "clear" but, can we have a bit more accuracy in the forecasting please? If it's going to be hazy, tell us. Don't fib and say it's going to be clear when there's actually going to be a load of high thin cloud around.
Yes, we do get contrails from jets passing overhead, but these dissapate quite quickly and the high thin rubbish is not all contrails in any case.

To this end, I have emailed the Mess Met Office. It most likely won't change anything but it's always good to let these sort of organisations know that people are taking notice of what they do and say and, if it's inaccurate, then they should know.

"I am an amateur astronomer and I am increasingly annoyed and frustrated, as are other amateurs, by the forecasters' definition of "clear skies". To us "clear skies" do not mean high haze and murk with only a few bright stars visible as this is NOT clear and is totally useless for doing any astronomy.  Can we please have forecasts which more accurately reflect this and not misleading (from an astronomical point of view) ones that do not take into account high thin clouds? Several times recently clear skies have been forecast, only for those so-called "clear skies" to turn out to be murk and high cloud - and on checking the on-line forecast it still says "clear skies" when it obviously isn't!

I understand that the forecasts are aimed at the general public, a lot of whom consider a bit of hazy sunshine or a few bright, bloated stars and a murky Moon to be "clear" and who have no interest in, or understanding of, astronomy, but amateur astronomers are also members of the public and we'd like more accurate forecasts, please, taking into account haze and high thin clouds.

It'll be interesting to see what sort of a reply I get - if, indeed, I get one.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please feel free to leave a comment. However, bare in mind that all comments are moderated, so any spam or offensive material will be deleted. Thanks.