2023 – how was it for you?

Forums General Discussion 2023 – how was it for you?

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    Jeremy Shears

    It has become something of a New Year tradition to comment on the Forum about the past observing year. As it’s cloudy here tonight, I thought I’d kick this off.

    Looking back on 2023, my overall recollection is that the weather has been generally poor, especially in the last few months of the year. My best month was April when I carried out CCD photometry from home on 8 nights (I can add an 9th night of observing as a few of us had telescopes out on the Saturday evening at Winchester). However, my coverage this year is poor as I have been away quite a bit, so I can’t really drawn any statistical conclusions.

    I would be interested in hearing how other people have got on. Was 2023 so bad?

    I wish everyone a Happy New Year and clear skies in 2024!



    I agree Jeremy. The weather during 2023 has been very unsuitable for astronomy, both visual and for imaging.
    I can recall how the weather changed during April and May, with a move in the jet stream, resulting in very worm weather with clear skies. But the increase in day length didn’t help.

    I have noticed how the skies have changed since the 1970s. Economy holidays are one major cause. I noticed last year. When we had clear skies. The sky wasn’t blue but a sort of hazy white blue, with contrails criss-crossing the sky.

    I did manage to do some Astro-Imaging. Especially during the latter half of the year. But again. When we had a clear sky, it was almost at the time of Full Moon.

    Happy New Year.

    Gary Poyner

    Observing statistics for 2023.

    Gary Poyner (Birmingham)

    Didn’t beat my record year of clear skies of 2022, but having said that, not too bad from North Birmingham. The year was pretty evenly spread, with 54% of observable skies occuring in the first half of the year. The last three months of 2023 were pretty disappointing though, with December being awful.

    2023 (2022 in parentheses)

    Clear nights (less than 50% cloud) 29 (41)
    Partially clear nights (50% or more cloud) 101 (103)
    Totally cloudy nights 235 (221)
    Total observable nights 130 (144) with 57 (74) of these nights having Moonlight interference. I made observations
    on 123 nights.

    Total hours at the telescope 257h (303)
    Best month May with 17 nights, 5 clear and 12 partially clear (August – 17)
    Worst month December with 3 partially clear nights (November – 8)

    Weather predictions from various sources gave incorrect information on cloud cover for 71 nights during 2023 (77).

    Total visual VS observations for 2023 is 11,043 (12,005). CCD single measures using remote telescopes COAST, SLOOH and the AAVSO MPO-61 are 3,301 (2,996).

    Happy New Year

    Dr Paul Leyland

    Well, the Earth didn’t move for me, darling, unlike 2021 when some of the tremors went over Richter 3.0.

    I don’t have precise figures to hand right now but impressions are that 2023 wasn’t so much different than the previous couple of years. Cloud was much better than in the UK but calima (hot air bringing dust directly from the Sahara) was as objectionable as ever. In the summer the calima heat was so bad that the camera’s Peltier cooler couldn’t maintain -10C and the mount controller would crash somewhere between 30 seconds and 30 minutes after starting. The latter was eventually kludged around with an old 4″, 12V fan held on with cable ties.

    David Boyd

    Observing statistics for 2023

    According to my records 2023 was another poor year here in South Oxfordshire, the sixth in a pattern of slowly decreasing availability of clear skies. I record the number of nights on which I was able to make at least one photometric observation as a percentage of the number of nights when I was at home and potentially able to observe if sky conditions permitted. I think this is a fair estimate of the percentage of observable nights in the year.

    In 2023 that was 86 nights out of 279 = 30.8% (2022 35.8%). This makes 2023 the worst year since I started keeping records in 2005. The best months were January, February and June, the worst March (7%), December (12%) and October (22%). During 2023 I made 206 photometry runs on specific targets comprising 17187 measured images. I also recorded 97 spectroscopy runs with 1424 spectra measured.


    Paul G. Abel

    I’ve been through my records and overall the weather in Leicester has followed the same general pattern, namely April, May and June were the best months. Unusually November was fairly good but as usual December was terrible with no useable clear nights at all. The couple of clear nights we had in December were unusable due to high winds. Overall I managed 66 observing sessions in 2023- this does not mean there were only 66 clear nights, there would have been more than this but I was unable to use them due to being away. This was marginally better than the previous year.

    What I have noticed this year is that the clear nights were very well dispersed by days and nights which were very cloudy and/or wet. Let us hope that 2024 is better.


    Michael O’Connell

    I don’t keep a log, but the weather here has been a real disaster. Worst I’ve seen in a long time.
    Met Éireann, the Irish met service, had confirmed that we had the wettest March on record, and the wettest July on record. 2023 was also the warmest on record.

    Callum Potter

    I also did not keep accurate records in 2023 (a new years resolution for 2024 again – sure to fail though 😉

    But I photographed aurora on 13 nights.
    Had 6 nights clear and dark enough for wide field imaging (including comets)
    Just 6 visual deep sky observing sessions (limited by dark of Moon periods, and telescope issues)
    39 solar observing sessions in h-alpha

    Night time observing is severely restricted from May to July due to the light nights at 59 degrees north.


    Robin Leadbeater

    Definitely a Curate’s Egg here. Apr-Jun were excellent but the past 6 months have been truly terrible

    Dominic Ford

    It’s always interesting to read this thread each year.

    I find it interesting to correlate the responses above with the number of images submitted to the BAA’s online image gallery over the year (using the histogram button in the gallery; screenshot attached below).

    In 2023, we saw 2,967 images uploaded by BAA members (excluding section archives), slightly down from 3,240 in 2022. But curiously, the month-by-month rate of image submissions doesn’t seem very strongly weather dependent – it was actually slightly increased during the wet autumn months, possibly driven by the start of the new deep sky season. And of course, some observers are using non-UK-based telescopes. There are some clear spikes marking the dates of eclipses and major meteor showers.

    One of the most prominent features is a very clear dip in BAA observing activity over the past couple of weeks, presumably driven by a combination of Storm Gerrit, Storm Henk, and excessive mince pie consumption! 🙂

    Peter Carson

    I observed on fewer nights in 2023 than in recent previous years, partly due to unusually poor weather in May and September at my remote observatory in Extremadura, Spain. Numbers were also down because there were more times when I was away from home or doing other things.

    Here are my observing statistics:

    Number of nights I observed….102……117
    Number of comets observed…….71…… 90
    Comet images submitted………453……502
    Astrometry to the MPC………1350…..1420
    Photometry to COBS………….412……472

    Let’s see what 2024 brings. Happy New Year everyone!

    • This reply was modified 5 months, 2 weeks ago by Peter Carson.
    • This reply was modified 5 months, 2 weeks ago by Peter Carson.
    Melvyn Joslin

    The first four months were good and then disaster struck. On sliding open my heavy observatory roof my wet shoes slipped on the floor when the roof jammed. Came down on the telescope pier with my back, shoulder and elbow. Cracked bones and tore ligaments. Still cannot open and close roof on my own. Working on a solution to the problem. Hope to be back in action very soon.

    Gary Poyner

    That’s very bad luck Mel. Hope you are making a speedy recovery, and can get back to observing VS as soon as possible.

    Best wishes,

    Melvyn Joslin

    Thank you for that Gary, it was very kind of you. It all happened so quickly and I saw stars that l have never seen before. I wanted to attend the Northampton meeting but with the train strike as well it was not to be, as I only use public transport now. I have attached eyelets and cable to to one end of roof. At the other end l have done the same but added two pullies for the extra length of cable to slide in. By placing the cable around my chest and under my arms, I can now walk the roof open from one end, and closed from the other. Just need the cloud to disappear. Stay alert in your observatories or you may see even more stars than I did.

    Andy Wilson

    Oh dear, that was really nasty accident. I hope you fully recover soon Mel.
    My current observatory has an electrically driven roof. I used to have a manual one that was a real struggle and I had to get onto a bench to close it. I worried about having an accident in the night!

    Dr Paul Leyland

    Mel: Anything we can do to help?

    Perhaps unlikely, I accept, but please just ask if it is possible.

    Melvyn Joslin

    Thank you all. I can now slide roof on an off with my new set-up. It is working really well. Will make sure that the roof jamming problem is fixed later on with help from family. Needs spacers to raise roof around 12mm. It has just sunk over time.

    Denis Buczynski

    My comet observing stats .
    I came across these observing stats at the link copied below.
    These are my observing stats since I came here to observe in 2011 at MPC Code I81
    Apparently, according to this data list I sit at number 55 out of 1670 observing stations having observed measured and reported on 427 comets.

    Nr.Station All MPECs Discovery MPECs Observations
    55 I81 220 19 19718

    2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023

    58 276 380 500 1374 1446 2274 1431 2135 2091 3419 2872 1462

    I81 has discovered 0 objects. It has made 19718 of all 808978 observations (2 %) at 427 objects in all MPECs with involved station I81.
    There are 2457 of all 87283 observations (3 %) at 110 objects in all discovery MPECs with involved station I81.



    Mr Ian David Sharp

    Hi all,

    Difficult to quantify, but one statistic I can quote is that I submitted 37,974 variable star measurements to the BAA Photometry database during 2023. This may sound a lot, but I regularly upload 100+ data points in any one observation as I focus on PCEB systems.

    It’s only because I have a system in Spain that I was able to do this. Having said that, there was a period from late May for 6 weeks in the UK where I had almost entirely clear skies.


    Dr Paul Leyland

    Now that I am back in La Palma and have access to my observatory I can check the log book.

    It appears that useful observations were made on 43 nights. More were undoubtedly clear, at least in part and some quite probably after I had given up waiting for the clouds to clear earlier in the night.

    Bear in mind that I live in LP for less than half the year. In 2023 only 141 days were spent here and six of those were spent traveling.

    As one might expect the evening I arrived here, 2024-01-11, was clear but I was exhausted after a trip which began at 02:00 that morning. The sky has been cloudy ever since.

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