Finding a good night for Astrophotography

On more than one occasion I have been tempted by the apparently clear skies, only to be disappointed by cloud cover as soon as I have my equipment set up. Figuring out the best conditions to do some imaging can be tough, especially leading into winter. Here’s a few websites and apps I use to try and work out which nights are going to be productive.

7timer

Super handy weather prediction website with a section dedicated to astronomy. I have had good results relying on the information from this website when planning a weeks imaging nights, usually using the Astro Panel app mentioned next.

Astro Panel

This Android app is based on the data from 7timer, so if 7timer is down this app might not work at all. This app is much easier to use than the website when you’re on the move, and it provides alerts when there is potentially good conditions coming up. Accuracy of the data has been reasonable for me in the time I’ve been using it, of course it’s only as accurate as the data on the 7timer website.

Weather Underground

Very comprehensive website that provides detailed world-wide weather information. WunderMap is a particularly cool feature of this website, you can enable different layers of information and even play an animation of things like the radar images.

Weather Underground app

Another Android app that I always have running. This provides the same information as the Weather Underground website, but in a format that is much easier to use on a phone or tablet. WunderMap is included as a part of this app, and in my opinion is much better than the dedicated Android app version.

BOM

Hey, I’m in Australia, so naturally our Bureau of Meteorology is a resource I often use! The MetEye page is a recent-ish addition and it’s super handy. It has a few annoying problems like it doesn’t save your location, and it won’t switch the time zone to match the location you search for, but it does provide an easy interface for looking up heaps of local weather information.

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