Observational Aids

This is your one-stop place for astronomy aids in and around the Fort Collins area. Here you will find widgets or links for sun/moon rise/sets, Clear Sky Clocks, ISS passes and Iridium Flare calculators.

Sun, Moon

Advanced Weather Forecasting for Astronomers via Astrospheric

Astrospheric is a detailed weather forecasting web site for astronomers and astrophotographers. It features maps giving: cloud cover, transparency, seeing conditions, ground temperature, jet stream, aerosol optical depth, and light pollution information. Daily charts are used to predict cloud cover, transparency, seeing, sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moonset, wind speed, ground temperature, and dew point temperature. Click here to see the full site.

Detailed Astronomy Weather via Clear Sky Clock

The Clear Sky Clock provides detailed weather forecasts for astronomers to use when planning their observing sessions. To learn how to read the chart, visit the Clear Sky Clock website by clicking on any of the charts below.
Members of NoCoAstro like to use observing sites outside of town and outside of the light pollution associated with cities and towns. Below are a few simplified versions of the Clear Sky Clock for nearby sites that might prove useful. For more detailed information, link on any of the links or charts.

International Space Station and Iridium Flares

Due to the surface area of the International Space Station and its orbiting height from the surface of Earth, it typically reflects enough sunlight to be seen in the night sky a couple hours after sunset or a couple hours before sunrise - even from inside or near town.

Other satellities can also be seen at certain times during their orbit. The easiest types of satellites to see are the Iridium Satellites when they produce an Iridium Flare. Iridium Flares are characterized as a gradual brightening followed by a gradual dimming of the satellite, often on a time frame between 30 and 180 seconds. These flares are caused as the satellite rotates in orbit to reposition its solar panels towards the sun. During this rotation, sunlight is reflected on a very small area of Earth’s surface.

The website, Heavens-Above.com, tracks these events. Below are links from various locations in or near Fort Collins that will tell you the location in the sky, brightness, and time of the ISS passes and Iridium Flares. Be sure to check out their site in detail to find other satellites that you can track.

Fossil Creek Reservoir

Upper Beaver Meadows, RMNP

Boyd Lake, Loveland, CO