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Current forecast for Qikiqtarjuaq Clear Sky Chart

Page Contents

What is it?

How do I read it

How to read Sky conditions:

How to read Ground conditions:

How do I see the full maps?

How can I put the Chart on my web page?

How do I make sure I keep getting it?

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What is it?

It's the astronomer's forecast. At a glance, it shows when it will be cloudy or clear for the next few days. It's a prediction of when Qikiqtarjuaq, NU, will have good weather for astronomical observing.

The data comes from a forecast model developed by Allan Rahill of the Canadian Meteorological Centre. CMC's numerical weather forecasts are unique because they are specifically designed for astronomers. But they have 1180 forecast maps. It can be a chore to find the one you want.

So, I (Attilla Danko) wrote a script to generate the images like the one above which summarizes CMC's forecast images just for Qikiqtarjuaq and the surroundings out to about 15 Kms.

There are charts for 6247 locations.

How do I read it?

Summary: In the rows labeled "sky conditions", find a column of blue blocks. You can probably observe then.

Details: Read the image from left to right. Each column represents a different hour. The colors of the blocks are the colors from CMC's forecast maps for that hour. The two numbers at the top of a column is the time. A digit 1 on top of a 3 means 13:00 or 1pm. It's local time, in 24hr format. (Local time for Qikiqtarjuaq is -4.0 hours from GMT.)


Too cloudy to forecast Poor Below Average Average Above average Transparent

The line, labeled Transparency, forecasts the transparency of the air. Here 'transparency' means just what astronomers mean by the word: the total transparency of the atmosphere from ground to space. It's calculated from the total amount of water vapor in the air. It is somewhat independant of the cloud cover forecast in that there can be isolated clouds in a transparent air mass, and poor transparency can occur when there is very little cloud.

Above average transparency is necessary for good observation of low contrast objects like galaxies and nebulae. However, open clusters and planetary nebulae are quite observable in below average transparency. Large globulars and planets can be observed in poor transparency.

A forecast color of white formally means that CMC didn't compute the transparency forecast because the cloud cover was over 30%. So it may be possible to observe during a white transparency forecast, but the real transparency is usually yucky. This forecast does not consider smoke. So see the separate smoke forecast line on this chart.

CMC's text page explaining the transparency forecast is here.


Too cloudy to forecast Bad 1/5 Poor 2/5 Average 3/5 Good 4/5 Excellent 5/5
The line, labeled Seeing, forecasts astronomical seeing. (It's an experimental forecast.) Excellent seeing means at high magnification you will see fine detail on planets. In bad seeing, planets might look like they are under a layer of rippling water and show little detail at any magnification, but the view of galaxies is probably undiminished. Bad seeing is caused by turbulence combined with temperature differences in the atmosphere. This forecast attempts to predict turbulence and temperature differences that affect seeing for all altitudes.

Bad seeing can occur during perfectly clear weather. Often good seeing occurs during poor transparency. It's because seeing is not very related to the water vapor content of the air.

The excellent-to-bad seeing scale is calibrated for instruments in the 11 to 14 inch range. There are some more details in CMC's seeing forecast page.

No computer model forecasts convective heating well, so consider the seeing forecasts for daytime hours to be less accurate. Seeing is forecast for 3-hour blocks, so triples of seeing blocks will show the same color. A white block on the seeing line means that there was too much cloud (>80% cover) to calculate it.

Note also that you may observe worse seeing though your telescope than what a perfect seeing forecast would predict. That is because tube currents and ground seeing mimic true atmospheric seeing. You may also observe better seeing than predicted here when observing with an instrument smaller than 11 inches.

This video discusses the difference bettween tube currents and seeing from 24:23 to 34.06: on youtube.


The line labeled darkness is not a weather forecast. It shows when the sky will be dark, assuming no light pollution and a clear sky. Black is a dark sky. Deep blue means a partially illuminated moon or moon at low altitude. Light blue is full moon. Turquoise is twilight. Yellow is dusk and white is daylight. For those who prefer numbers, the scale is also calibrated. The numbers are the visual limiting magnitude at the zenith. (The brightness of the faintest star a standard observer can see straight up.) Mouse over a darkness block for details.

It is based on Ben Sugerman's Limiting Magnitude calculations page. It takes into account the sun's and moon's position, moon phase, solar cycle and contains a scattering model of the atmosphere. It doesn't consider light pollution, dust, clouds, snow cover or the observer's visual acuity. So your actual limiting magnitude will often be different.


No Smoke 2ug/m^3 5ug/m^3 10ug/m^3 20ug/m^3 40ug/m^3 60ug/m^3 80ug/m^3 100ug/m^3 200ug/m^3 500ug/m^3
This forecasts the amount of wildfire smoke. I havent yet calibrated the effect on transparency. So far the forecast appears to be overly optimistic with observers reporting considerable smoke when this forecast reports "no smoke". However, the forecasts other than "no smoke" really do mean enough smoke to affect transparency. I suggest people also check the near-realtime smoke map produced by the NOAA. Assume a reduction of transparency if either shows smoke for your location.

A note about CMC's smoke forecast colors: The chart shows different colors than the corresponding maps because the maps use white to mean "no smoke" but the cloud and transparency forecasts use white to mean "opaque sky". I've chosen colors for the smoke line on the chart that might better represent the color of a smokey sky -- except for the highest levels which, when forecast, means people should stay indoors.

The data comes from Environment Canada's Canada's Wildfire Smoke Prediction System.

How do I see the full maps?

To see CMC's full map for a particular hour, click on a colored block. The CMC map your browser will load will be the map closest to the hour you picked. The time on the CMC map might look odd because it's in GMT, while the blocks on the chart are in local time.

It's worth checking a few of the full maps before committing to a long drive out to an observing site.

May I put the Chart on my web page?

If your website does not make money from ads, does not charge admission and does not sell anything, then yes. Use a "dumb" text editor, one that does not understand html, to insert this:

<a href=https://www.cleardarksky.com/c/QkqtrjqNUkey.html> <img src="https://www.cleardarksky.com/c/QkqtrjqNUcsk.gif?c=1522822"></a>

Or, if you would prefer a simplified thumbnail:

<a href=https://www.cleardarksky.com/c/QkqtrjqNUkey.html> <img src="https://www.cleardarksky.com/c/QkqtrjqNUcs0.gif?1"></a>

But please don't copy other html or text from this page.

Hey, this is cool. How do I make sure I keep getting it?

Just keep using it. I intend to keep updating this image for as long as CMC is willing to generate the underlying maps. But there are ways that you can help:

If you find this clear sky chart, or CMC maps linked by the colored blocks, useful please send Allan Rahill of the CMC an email (and feel free to copy me). Allan needs to show his boss that his astronomy forecasts are actually being used.

You can also help keep clear sky charts free for everyone by being a sponsor. Please feel free to tell sponsors that they're cool.

Clear Sky Chart Home -- Danko's Homepage

Page updated by d800 at 2021-10-17 15:45:41 which is -4.0 hours from UTC.
Update rank: 5366. Thanks to anyone thinking of sponsoring this page.

Copyright 2021 A. Danko. Page updated 2021-10-17 19:45:41UT on server3.