Bad data and timeouts

Over the past few hours the weather station has been reporting temperatures in excess of 80°C and extremely high winds. These values are clearly incorrect. At other times the station is failing to report anything at all – the web page times out. I’m not able to deal with this at the moment, but I will look into it as soon as I can. Nertz!

Not a faucet, but my nose!

My cold lingers – right now it’s in my ears, and I’m moderately deaf – so I can’t go out much. A quick dash to and from the office from the car is about my limit. I think the office building is sick, though, since when I enter the building I start to go through tissue after tissue keeping my nose in check. At home or on the road I barely need ’em.

Apparently last night was a really clear night but all I could do was look wistfully through the window at Mars, which is rapidly heading away from us. On the other hand my cloudy night routine now includes fiddling with the weather station software. I’ve gone completely over to Open2300 since WeatherTracker wasn’t doing it for me in its current state, and I’ve tweaked the cron jobs and the php programs to reduce the chances of having one cron job collide with another. Small pleasures.

Returning to the Cold Cold Blast

We’ve had some amazing weather for January, and I took advantage of it to set up the weather station. However, we now seem to be moving back to more normal conditions – it’s snowing as I look outside the kitchen door, and the rain sensor is on the ground (though apparently still working). We had gusting conditions – the weather station doesn’t record gusts – and the maximum recorded wind speed was 6.9 m/s (just under 25 kph).

Perhaps as a consequence of the weather and moving about in it – dressing for -5 only to find it’s +10 – I’ve wound up with a cold, sore throat, aching joints, headache, stuffed up nose – the whole works. Right now I’m up, but that won’t last long — I’m heading back to bed!

Everybody talks about the weather

Everybody talks about the weather, though there’s precious little we can do about it. I generally am quite aware how lousy the weather is right now, but ask me about how it was a month ago, or even how quickly things have changed over the course of the day, and I’m completely out of touch. As an aide memoire – and as a planning assistant for observing – I’ve set up a weather station for the observatory. It’s definitely not state of the art, but at least I am able to track what’s going on.

I was going to use Open2300, an open source bundle of command-line tools which would interrogate the weather station base unit and return values for the various sensors, but I wasn’t able to get the serial communications going, and it’s a bad time of year for me to undertake investigation of new software problems. Instead, I’m using an alpha version of WeatherTracker, a new work from Dean Davis of After Ten Software . So far, so good – but it’s an alpha version, so there may be bugs, and there are certainly some improvements to come. Once the software is working properly the next step will be to work out the right setup for automation – letting the scope run with imaging but stopping for say, high winds. I’ll still need a more sensitive rain sensor though – by the time the weather station reports rain, it’s too late to close up the observatory.

Is it better to journey than to arrive?

Is it really better to journey than to arrive? If so, it looks as though I’m going on a trip.

I picked up a weather station over the weekend, a Lacrosse WS-2310 in its Weather Channel incarnation. This features a serial connection for a computer – one of the selling points (the other being price) – but the supplied software is not for Macintosh. There are very few pieces of third party software which should be adaptable for this, and nothing I have seen specifically for Macintosh, so I’m looking into the Open2300 project.

The first order of business was setting up the weather station itself. So far everything is connected, but not placed out in harm’s way – all the sensors are in the observatory until I get a chance to figure out siting them. The thermo-hygro sensor which measures temperature and humidity is sending data, so at this instant I can look at the base station and see that the temperature inside the observatory is -0.2 C, relative humidity is 73% and relative barometric pressure (more on that another time) at the base station is 102.35 kPa.

So far, so good – but the Mac isn’t talking to the base station. More to come….

Clear skies?

Ack! According to the Clear Sky clock there will be clear skies after local midnight on Thursday night – Friday morning, in other words. However, the prediction also shows that transparency will be much worse than normal. No clouds, then, but you still won’t see anything. On the off-chance that this was wrong, I took a look around 3 a.m., but as usual all I could see was a milky glow. It’s possible there were no clouds, but at least at that time there were no clouds either. I went back to bed to pull the covers over my head.

By 6 a.m. there were hints of stars, and the sun eventually made an appearance (scaring many drivers who had forgotten what it was). I’m hoping for clearer skies this evening – it’ll be the first time in weeks!

Rain and snow

What a delightful combination!

I spent the weekend grumbling and growling about the rain during the day and the snow during the night. Even when it stopped snowing it stayed cloudy, so this was another socked-out weekend. It used to be that when you had bad weather you knew that everyone else in your circle of friends and acquaintances had bad weather also – misery loves company, and all that! However, in these web-conscious days that no longer holds. I have only to pull up the Digital Astro group on yahoogroups to read all about wonderful weather – or at least usable sucker holes – across North America. I’m thinking of staying in bed until summer… or until the weather clears.