Observing statistics for 2012

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    Posted by Jeremy at 10:30 on 2013 Jan 01

    In spite of all the bad weather we have experienced, 2012 yielded the highest number of usable nights in the last 4 years, with a total of 108 nights, or 30% of all nights. Compare this with last years 96 nights, for example. (Note that a usable night is when I was able to carry out any CCD imaging: it could be a few fields/frames or it could be many hours. The best month was December with 15 nights (4 consecutive over the Christmas period!), with January, March and September each yielding 14.However, 2012 was notable in one respect. This was the first year since 2005, when I started CCD photometry in earnest, that I drew a completely blank month with no observations whatsoever. That was June, the month of Jubilee and the Venus Transit (which I missed).I should add that inevitably there were some clear nights that I missed due to holidays, business travel or other commitments, so the totals are underestimates.The total number of individual stars observed this year was 6581 (one measure per star, usually as part of a patrol for outburst cataclysmic variables; this number does not include time series photometry, when I sat on a particular star for hours. A small proportion of observations were made remotely using the Bradford Robotic Telescope on Tenerife, but even this was not working in June!).My statistics, which begin in 2005, show that the best year was 2006 with 149, or 41%, nights usable.Happy new year!Jeremy


    Posted by Paul A Brierley at 11:10 on 2013 Jan 01

    Hello Jeremy,Your report is very interesting to read. I didn’t imagine we had that many usable night’s in 2012.So thank you for this interesting snippet.Let’s hope for better weather and more of those clear skies. For everybody in Great Britain in 2013.


    Posted by M C Butcher at 13:32 on 2013 Jan 01

    Jeremy,Living off the west coast of Scotland we generally get less nights that are suitable for observing than in many other parts of the country with the most common problems being cloud cover and wind. Because the winds here can be quite severe I do not have an observatory and therefore have to set up my telescope afresh each night. In 2012, after setting up (polar alignment etc), I was able to image(I use a DSLR) or observe on 27 occasions for a total of 86.65 hours. Fortunately I am retired and so if it is clear I am able to stay out all night to maximise the opportunities presented. On 11 occasions I was able to observe for 3 hours or more including one night in December for 13.5 hours.Historically these figures for 2012 are down on the norm (about 100 hours per year) but they are at least up on 2011 when I achieved only 7 nights observing for a total of 9.77 hours with the longest session being only 2.75 hours. One learns to be grateful for any opportunity that one gets!Hoping that these statistics might be of some interest.Martin Butcher


    Posted by Gary Poyner at 14:40 on 2013 Jan 01

    I had 84 useable nights/mornings 43 clear and 41 partially clear (2011 = 88). 41 of these were affected by Moonlight. For the first time I kept basic stats on how the local weather forecast did. On 23 occasions of the 84 nights the sky was cloudy when it was forecast to be clear and on 24 occasions the sky was clear when it was forecast cloud. Thats over 50% failure rate for cloud forecasting. Pitiful!My best month was January with 12 observable nights, and the worst was June when I had just two partially clear nights although better than Jeremy.I didnt manage to observe on all of the nights for a number of reasons (I missed less than 10) including the amount of talks I find myself giving to astronomy societies these days (which I enjoy immensely). A number of occasions Ive been driving home in a clear sky only to find cloud sat over Birmingham when I arrive home. The total of 84 includes nights I missed, so its a true reflection of a cloudy year.My visual totals are 7,695 variable star observations which is ~ 1,100 down on 2011, and 1,965 CCD observations obtained with BRT and aavso-net (which has an absurdly long Monsoon break).For me at least the weather patterns are deteriorating. Sky conditions continue to worsen too and thats not just light pollution. The quality of sky I have been seeing over the past few years is far inferior to even just ten years ago. Im not sure of the cause.My best year was in 1995 when I recorded 138 observable nights (records going back to 1978). You can see a few graphs etc. on my web page (url below) under "clear night stats".Anyway heres to a clearer 2013 for all of us.Gary


    Posted by Denis Buczynski at 15:06 on 2013 Jan 01

    My observing statistics here at Tarbatness in Highland Scotland for the year 2012 are of the following order: Observations were possible on 91 nights when ccd images were taken. The months of May, June, July are unusable due to the presence of almost permanent daylight conditions (around 90 nights), so of the rest (275 nights) I was able to observe on 33% of nights (around 1 in 3).This does not count nights when I was away from home during the winter, spring and autumn months. So the clear night count is probably on the low side. Jan 11,Feb,11,Mar7,Apr7,Aug9,Sept8,Oct9,Nov16,Dec13During those clear nights I imaged a total of 606 objects, mainly comets, but some Supernovae, Novae, Variable stars and asteroids. These observing statistics are only related to my main imaging telescope and I have not counted the number of nights I used my secondary telescope. Nor have I counted in the number of images taken of the Aurora. So about the same number of nights usable in Highland Scotland in 2012 as in Cheshire where Jeremy lives, who would have thought it!Denis Buczynski


    Posted by Jeremy at 16:13 on 2013 Jan 01

    Interesting stats coming in here – thanks for everyone for sharing. I am sure others will be adding later.Denis, the similarity with Tarbatness and Cheshire is remarkable. If I take out my data for the "summer" months of May – Jun – Jul, I get 35% usable nights for 2012, which is very similar to yours.Go well!Jeremy


    Posted by Phillip Hudson at 17:29 on 2013 Jan 01

    With the very poor weather we have had over the year I was impressed how much observing that actually has been done


    Posted by Paul Abel at 20:03 on 2013 Jan 01

    I record this as my worst ever year, and certainly the wettest, it has been truly appalling. The first part of 2012, Saturn was present in Virgo. On an average year I would hope to make around 25-30 observations and around 30-35 disk drawings. This year I got just 10 observations. It was notable that there were no clear nights between January 13th and 19th March here in Leicester, or if there was a clearing it was infrequent or unusable. There were just two clear nights in March and three in April. May was a little better and this meant that I was able to make 23 observations of Venus which was at eastern elongation which I observed from 2012 January 02- 2012 May 26th.June -September was devoid of planets but this was academic since we had some of the worst torrential rain over these months I’ve ever experienced in Leicester. For the first time I can recall, the manhole covers were blown out from a number of main roads, the water pressure in the sewers being that formidable. The cloud has continued and has badly interrupted my Jupiter observations- just three clear nights in November. The last useable clear night here (we have brief clear spells intermixed with heavy rain) was 5th-6th December. This was my last Jupiter observation.I also note just how unreliable the Met office has become. At the time of writing it has predicted clear spells for the region and yet we are clouded out. Their predictions are so unreliable now I no longer bother with them and use Satellite 24 to make my own predictions, along with the jet stream forecast to assess how good/bad the seeing is.In short, 2012 was the worst year of my observing career.Best wishes,-Paul.


    Posted by D A Dunn at 13:59 on 2013 Jan 02

    I haven’t got a complete year this year as I retired and then moved (to Normandy), but from 11 Aug I have made observations on 67 days. This includes everything from taking pictures of sunspots to deep sky. I’m still learning so nothing really great yet but its great fun.I guess being over the water gives me a small edge on the weather but we have had the wettest year in 12 years here. We have an automatic weather station. Still by watching the rain radar and being here most of the time I am able to take advantage of any gaps that do appear!All the bestDavid


    Posted by Nick James at 21:40 on 2013 Jan 02

    My stats are not very reliable since I tend to miss a lot of nights due to other commitments but 2012 doesn’t seem to have been particularly bad. The following table shows the number of nights in each year when I obtained at least one CCD image from Chelmsford:2010 5820111082012 71I also have records from my meteor video system which observes any time it is dark but I need to write some scripts to analyze the percentage clear dark hours. I’ll put that on my to-do list.Nick.

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