Sky Stuff 1: Apps & Websites for Weather and Celestial Events

This post is the first in a new series about things that happen in the sky. This topic relates to parks because city, county, state, and national parks are often the best places to go to observe or photograph stuff in the sky.

For Part One I am providing suggestions for apps and links to websites in a variety of categories. You have to know when and where things are happening in order to go see them and these resources help with that. The tools are particularly useful for photographers.

Upcoming posts will have tips for when you might want to use specific sites and apps, where to go, and details about chasing the aurora borealis.

Many of the links below take you to pages for Seattle. But once at the site you can enter a zipcode (postal code) or name of a town to find the info for your part of the world. Once you’ve done that, I recommend bookmarking the site if the info looks useful to you. I have all the links sorted into my Sky Stuff bookmarks folder in a web browser so they are easy for me to find and use.

All apps listed are free unless otherwise noted.

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Bird’s Eye View

The new Space Needle webcam is now operational and it’s awesome!

The old webcam was pretty neat and it was a good way to check on what the weather was doing. But the camera only pointed in southerly directions, and since it was a live view you had to wait around 15 minutes to see a change of position.

The new camera is on a time delay, but the advantage is you get a complete 360 degree view. You can watch it slowly rotate, or drag your finger on the screen (on a mobile device) to speed things up or go back. No more long waits. You can also spin a wheel at the bottom of the image to go back in time to see what was going on earlier.

The Space Needle cam is a fantastic tool for planning park outings. You can see what the weather is doing in your direction, and make a good guess as to whether it will be staying the same, getting better, or getting worse.

It’s also valuable for photography enthusiasts. Check to see what the sky is doing when deciding if you want to venture out for sunrise or sunset. Or look to see if the mountain is out before driving across the city to a viewpoint.

Here’s the link:

Park Outing Weather

As I discussed at length on my Weather page, Seattle weather is tricky to predict, and typical weather apps and forecasts will only get you so far. But when it comes to enjoying our public parks, knowing what the weather is doing and will be doing is important. What kind of day it will be can tell you which park to visit and how to prepare.

I just stumbled over a neat blog called Husky Weather. It has some of the most in-depth info for the Puget Sound area you will see. If you’re an aspiring weather geek, or just someone who appreciates a lot of detail, check it out.