Is ANYONE getting clear nights any more?

Forums General Discussion Is ANYONE getting clear nights any more?


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    Alan Snook

    Alex P, Grant P – regrettably Grant is right. Trust me, my neighbours (effectively only two within a half-mile radius) don’t care. So long as they are alright, that’s all that matters to them. The Council route is closed to me because it would be blindingly(!) obvious who complained. I have concerns over the fall-out.

    Alan Snook

    Giovanni, interesting to hear your experiences. I have a pet theory as to what else is going on – it’s aircraft exhaust. When the Iceland volcano erupted in 2010 halting aviation, the change I witnessed to my sky was dramatic and nearly instant. Normally there are so many aircraft leaving so many contrails. My record is 11 jets counted simultaneously from my garden. Back in the 1960s a British airline ran a TV advert – people in the street looking up at “the 8:50 Trident” spearing across the sky, glancing at their watches and seeing it was on time. If only we’d realised then that half a century on there would be an 8:50 and 10 seconds Trident, and an 8:50 and 20 seconds Trident, and an 8:50 and 30 seconds – you get the picture. It surely can’t go on at this intensity. Trust me, every wisp of cloud in this photo is artificial.


    Alan, I agree with you, the effect caused by planes is certainly not minimal. I too have observed many aircraft contrails in the air. The phenomenon has become more frequent since about a year ago. And I will tell you that I am now doing research to find out two things: 1) the photodissociation time of the combustion products ejected by planes into the atmosphere; 2) the floating time of the same in the air. The vast majority of discharges occur at the upper limit of the troposphere (10-12 km altitude), where the atmosphere (close to the stratosphere) is on average rather static. Therefore, the ground deposition time of long-lived photodissociated products will certainly be of the order of months to a couple of years. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people do not understand this. As you say, it is enough for many to eat, drink and watch the stars (the stars as it were) on television. This thoughtlessness is leading us to an irreversible situation, and afterwards those who want Christ pray to Him.

    Dr Paul Leyland

    The sky over the northern hemisphere was much clearer than usual in mid-September 2001 There is little doubt that contrails have a significant effect on the amount of cloud cover.

    David Conner

    Regarding ‘light trespass’ (Alex Pratt May 14), I agree that astronomers are not generally seen ‘normal’ people. That said, I have spoken to a couple of my neighbours over the years about their outdoor lighting shining into my upstairs windows. Both responded fairly positively and the situation improved, including my views of the night sky.

    Literally today I responded to a local planning application for a new house that included potential ‘security’ lighting. Good that it would be activated by a motion sensor, but I felt the following comments were worth making.

    ‘Security’ lighting will be operated by ‘intruder switching’ (as stated, which is good) but should also be directed so as to illuminate this property alone. It should not shine onto neighbouring properties, where it would present an obtrusive light nuisance, or onto the public highway (from where the property would be visible), where it would present a hazard by shining into user’s eyes.
    Institution of Lighting Professionals Guidance Notes 9/19, Domestic exterior lighting: getting it right!
    Guidance Note 1 for the reduction of obtrusive light 2021 | Institution of Lighting Professionals (

    btw, if anyone complains about my playing records too loudly, should I suggest that they get thicker walls..?

    Gary Eason

    I also have been bemoaning the dearth of clear skies this year here in north Essex (as family and friends can testify!). However, I took a sideways view. I had been using an astro modified DSLR but was gifted an ASI585MC for Christmas and began using that for gathering Lunar images, when possible, which takes far less clear sky time than do DSOs – a whole new interest for me. And having observed that it was often clear all day then cloudy as soon as darkness fell, I also bought a solar filter for my Newtonian reflector, and started imaging the Sun, which also needs only a few clear minutes – another new interest. Every cloud has a silver lining, I suppose . . .


    Here in the beautiful country (Italy), lights are scattered everywhere and directed almost randomly, even upwards. They mostly use illuminating globes and LED spotlights directed towards everything that can be illuminated. Not only are the neighbour’s lights dazzling and annoying, the public lighting is also bad. A 120×100 car park, 200m from my house is lit by 54 street lamps of 250 W each. In this climate, the absolute indifference of private individuals and institutions reigns. The anti-pollution law is not even in the administrators’ drawer. The motorist who forgets to dim his headlights is fined, but the headlight of the certain shop is ignored, or the headlights of the supermarket and the motorway that point towards the road and dazzle all night long. What if one appeals? You get a good chuckle. Summary: the problem of light pollution does NOT exist here.


    The motorist who forgets to dim his headlights is fined

    I can’t see this happening here!

    I have always enjoyed looking at Jupiter and with increasing light pollution I can see this becoming my main focus in the coming years. I am often surprised to see Jupiter shining through a gap in the clouds as though it pushes the clouds away.
    The Met Office cloud cover forecast does seem to be accurate in predicting clouds for me! It also enabled me to spot a gap in the clouds this morning and I had a good view of the Moon and Saturn in a brightening sky. I don’t know how accurate the forecast is. Presumably they do feed actual cloud cover back into the prediction. The monthly weather report they produce doesn’t give a cloud cover percentage but you can get an indication from the hours of sunshine/rainfall/frost.


    My enthusiasm for astronomy is ebbing away.
    Concerning the weather, I think something is happening perhaps beyond what the researchers are reporting. Here, in central Italy, we have had a winter very different from previous ones. In my mountains (Gran Sasso d’Italia), snow was always abundant from the end of November to the end of April. On the Campo Imperatore plateau, at an altitude of 2100 m, where the astronomical observatory is located, at least 1 m of snow. By contrast, last winter was disastrous for skiers and for all tourist activity. The attached photographs are a comparison between the normal winter situation on the plateau and that of winter 2024. All taken in the first week of February. During the winters of the past years, we have always had frequent very clear and cold nights down to -10 C. Using the telescope on the moon and planets was a delight. This year, on the other hand, cloud cover was more frequent than usual and the sky was less transparent, so there were very few night frosts that we did not have to use antifreeze spray on our car windows. The month of May allowed only a few observations. This morning I went out with my two dogs and wore a padded jacket because of the black sky and cold air. Summer had already broken out in the past. All this together with light pollution (from my terrace you can read the newspaper in the middle of the night) is dampening my passion for observational astronomy. No more shopping for telescopes, ccd cameras, go to’s, eyepieces, mounts, filters, mechanical work and as many other accessories as we want.
    Alan, I agree with you.
    I can’t take it any more! I have decided two things:
    1) I will devote myself only to the study of Astronomy;
    2) better enjoy that money by inviting a beautiful woman to dinner. Just tell me I’m wrong.

    Peter Anderson

    Hello Giovanni,

    Regarding your item 2 above, I would stick with your dogs. – See attachment




    I can’t take it any more! I have decided two things:
    1) I will devote myself only to the study of Astronomy;
    2) better enjoy that money by inviting a beautiful woman to dinner. Just tell me I’m wrong.


    Don’t lose your enthusiasm. Maybe plan a holiday to a site with better conditions and take your beautiful date with you.


    I think I will be on dodgy ground if I make any comment about your post!

    Peter Anderson

    I must apologise that I gave a ‘smarty response’ but I really like ‘In praise of dogs’ and have it posted on my study wall with the item ‘When a dog gets old…’ underlined in red. My wife of 57 years is not amused….. Life is for living dangerously!

    My own weather woes this year are very similar with considerable cloud and often light rain. As a southern hemisphere lunar occultation observer with the approaching lunar standstill I have the additional problem in recent months, when the crescent to first quarter waxing Moon is too far north among the trees to access from my observatory and so last month I used my 63 year old 24cm reflector – a simple instrument on a wheeled base. (see image from its 1968 update) This period from crescent to first quarter is generally very productive but though I have cleared a swathe, trees can occasionally be frustrating when the Moon is at extreme (particularly north) declinations. See images.

    Thought I live in the hills within 10 radial kilometres of the centre of a city (Brisbane) with a 2 million metropolitan area population, my night time zenithal sky has only deteriorated from around mv 5.5 to 5.6 to 5.2 to 5.3 in the fifty years we have lived here. I made the decision when we bought and built that I needed quick access to the city, principally for work, but for other amenities as well, so compromised on the dark sky since my main interest was solar system objects. Deep sky enthusiasts have either settled or have sites 100 kilometres or considerably more from the city/Gold Coast areas.

    My main complaint at the moment is about the continuing wet weather and the southern face of the observatory end posts and roof (not in sunlight at this time of year) are exhibiting a yellow tinge that I will clean off when the weather clears.

    Let us all hope that clear skies soon return.

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