Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania (CW2775)
Latitude 40.16 north Longitude 74.85 west Elevation 30 meters
Current conditions Weather-Cam All Sky Cam
Cloud Sensor Lightning detection Space Weather Data
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In addition to the JATObservatory being an astronomical observatory, it also functions as a local weather station. The weather station's main purpose is to provide data for planning observing sessions by gathering information about the conditions inside and outside the observatory. Conditions at the observatory are monitored and logged by a Vantage Pro weather station. The station provides indoor and outdoor temperature as well as barometric pressure, humidity, rainfall, wind speed, direction and dew point. The data is reported real time, as well as logged. The station is configured to log and upload data to this website in 15 minute intervals. This data is also used by the Citizen Weather Observer Program. The observatory's station ID number is CW2775. Every 5 minutes a connection is made to the Automatic Position Reporting System's weather network (About 2500 stations upload data to APRSWXNET). The data is checked for quality and then distributed to places like NOAA's Forecast Systems Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, and NOAA's Meteorological Assimilation Data Ingest System (MADIS), from there it is made available to forecasters, pilots, ships or anyone who needs it. Weather data is also uploaded to the Weather Underground. JATO's Weather Underground station ID is KPAFAIRL1.
The weather station also includes a Boltek StormTracker lightning detector. The detector is capable of detecting lighting strikes within a 300 miles radius of the observatory. Detection includes 'inter-cloud' and 'intra-cloud' (IC) strikes as well as 'cloud to ground' (CG) strikes (the polarity of the strikes is also displayed). A subset of the locally displayed graphical data is uploaded to the website, but complete text reports are available on-line. A separate software package Storm Predator automatically retrieves data from the nearest National Weather Service radar site. This allows near-real time radar data (within 150 miles) to be displayed at the observatory, as well as forecasts, severe weather alerts, and storm tracking.
The observatory also has a number of cameras that it uses to monitor the observatory. Images from some of the cameras are broadcast real-time to internet (still images are uploaded every 60 seconds from both cameras). One of the cameras can be controlled via the Internet, the user can reposition the camera by using any of the 8 pre-programmed buttons, or clicking anywhere on the image to center that point. There is also an All Sky and Meteor Cam. It is mounted in a fixed location and looks at the sky directly overhead. It is active between dusk and dawn only (the start and stop times vary depending on seasons). Another camera inside the observatory provides images of the telescope's position.
Clear sky viewing is predicted with the aid of the Danko Clear Sky Clock. This helps plan viewing or imaging sessions up to 2 days in advance based on the prediction data. The clock provides prediction data on cloud cover, seeing, darkness, humidity, wind and temperature. The observatory also receives "Clear Sky Alarms" (which are sent to a special email account) with notification of the times and the duration, the sky conditions are predicted to be clear. The criteria for these alarms are defined by the observatory.
The observatory's also makes use of a Boltwood Cloud and Rain detector. The detector is mounted just a few feet southwest of the observatory (the direction of the prevailing winds). The detector has the ability to detect the condition of the sky by measuring the upper atmosphere's temperature using an infrared sensor. The sky's condition is reported as "Clear", "Cloudy", "Very Cloudy", "Rain" or "Snow". Very Cloudy or Rain conditions will cause the dome's shutters to automatically close if open. A graph of the detector's output is uploaded to this website every 5 minutes.
In addition to the local terrestrial weather, the observatory also monitors space weather. This is accomplished by using Solar Terrestrial Dispatch Space Weather Information Monitor software (STD SWIM). STD SWIM automatically downloads information at user defined intervals to the observatory's weather computer. This information provides alerts and data about solar activity, such as Sun Spots, Solar Flares, the Solar Wind, including real-time Aurora Borealis watches, warnings and sightings. The software can be customized to retrieve and display data or images from just about any website. The data does not have to be limited to space weather. Complete world wide terrestrial weather data, including spacecraft and radar imagery, as well as forecast maps are also retrieved every 30 minutes. Another way the STD SWIM software is by the observatory is to retrieve images provided by Night-Sky cameras from various observatories. This allows near real-time 180 degree views of the night sky from around the world 24 hours a day.
Go to the JATObservatory Home page
Updated 06/14/2008 - Please report broken links or send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org