Monday, November 24, 2008

webspotting 7 - CSAC

First published in the Dec 2008/Jan 2009 issue of SCOPE, the newsletter of the RASC Toronto Centre. The URL is updated. Republished here with permission. Very minor edits applied.


Unless you've recently emerged from under a rock, black hole, or the Oort Cloud, I probably do not need to tell you about the Clear Sky Charts (nee Clear Sky Clock) web site by Attila Danko. Except to remind you how grateful we should be.

It is however—as I have mentioned in a previous article—pull technology. You need to jump on an internet terminal, fire up a browser, proactively go to Attila's web site, select your preferred location (if you don't have a direct link to a specific location), view the results, and interpret the results.

Want a push? Want Clear Sky Charts to notify you have upcoming good conditions? Would you like to receive good sky condition notices in your electronic inbox? In your smartphone? To your Crackberry?

Mark Casazza delivers!

Mark built a web site, called the Clear Sky Alarm Clock, which serves as a companion to the Attila's.

It analyses the data from Attila's site, according  to your criteria. When conditions at any one of your preferred locations is favourable, Mark's site generates an email directed to your preferred address.

The CSAC site is completely configurable. You can create multiple location profiles and specify the rules for each site's "alarm." I have profiles set up for Toronto (for me), Fingal (near my Mom), and the CAO. I've been thinking I should build ones for The Forks and The Long Sault.

For each profile, you can specify a variety of constraints. 
  • percentage of cloud cover
  • seeing conditions
  • transparency predictions
  • when you observe, on week days or week ends
  • Moon elevation and phase
  • duration of good conditions
For Toronto, I have told the site that marginal conditions are sufficient to send me a notice. I'll make my own judgement call upon receipt. But for Collingwood, the conditions must be spectacular. It's a long drive and I want to be sure before I go.  

Let those computers work for you.

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