Mini Blizzard Today!

Saturday, February 16th, 2013 10:19pm EST

Blue skies shortly after 3 p.m. rapidly change to a mini blizzard at 5:15 p.m.

Higher resolution version (1280×960) available here

Jupiter and the Moon

Monday, January 21st, 2013 11:00pm EST

Jupiter and the Moon with only 1/2 degree or one Moon diameter of separation. This photograph was taken at 10:11pm EST on Monday, Jan. 21, 2013. They won’t appear this close again until 2026!

Geminid Meteor Shower

Friday, December 14th, 2012 9:44pm EST

Dr. Chris observed about 50 meteors over a one-hour period.  Most were faint ones like the photo above.  Observing conditions were ideal….clear skies and no Moon. The Geminids are the last big meteor shower of the year and usually put on a spectacular show.

Rain Collector Heater Installed

Sunday, December 9th, 2012 4:43pm EST

We installed the rain collector heater today. This device warms the surface of the rain collector to measure freezing rain or the moisture content of snowfall. It felt a bit strange to do this on an unseasonably warm 68F December afternoon!

Bright Meteor

Saturday, November 10th, 2012 2:15pm EST

Click for high-resolution image

The Live Sky Cam captured this very bright meteor streaking across the western sky very early this morning. Be sure to click on the image for a closer look.

A meteor, or colloquially shooting star or falling star, is the visible path of a meteoroid that enters the Earth’s atmosphere.  Meteoroids are typically pebble size pieces of debris that enter the atmosphere going approximately 18 miles per second.  They typically burn up in the mesosphere at an altitude of approximately 50 miles.


New Weather Computer

Friday, November 9th, 2012 7:00am EST

Click for larger view

Today we successfully transitioned the computer-controlled “backend” of the weather station to a dedicated system. This new, custom-built computer runs 24/7 with the sole purpose of downloading weather telemetry and imaging from our field equipment and uploading the latest, up-to-the-minute information to our website at  This new hardware, operating with emergency backup power, will insure our visitors receive the most reliable service and our weather station operates optimally regardless of inclement weather.

Hurricane Sandy

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012 8:42pm EST

Megastorm Sandy’s march of destruction claimed at least 110 lives and left more than 8.5 million people without electricity by late Tuesday, in one of the largest storms ever to strike the East Coast.

In this handout GOES satellite image provided by NASA, Hurricane Sandy, pictured at 1255 UTC, moves inland across the mid-Atlantic region on October 30, 2012 in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm has claimed at least 33 lives in the United States, and has caused massive flooding across much of the Atlantic seaboard. US President Barack Obama has declared the situation a ‘major disaster’ for large areas of the US East Coast including New York City. (Photo by NASA via Getty Images)

Sun Halo Created by the Outer Bands of Hurricane Sandy

Sunday, October 28th, 2012 1:25pm EST

Halos around the Sun and Moon are fairly common. They occur when high thin clouds containing millions of tiny ice crystals cover much of the sky. Each ice crystal acts like a miniature lens. Because most of the crystals have a similar elongated hexagonal shape, light entering one crystal face and exiting through the opposing face refracts 22 degrees, which corresponds to the radius of the Sun Halo.

Our Little Piece of Halley’s Comet

Saturday, October 20th, 2012 4:31pm EST

A Piece of Halley’s Comet Rains Down on Charlotte
(Click for larger image)

Our Live Sky Cam managed to a snap a shot of an Orionid meteor streaking down on Charlotte. The Orionid meteors are debris left behind by Halley’s Comet.  The Earth passes through the comet’s orbit twice a year, although the comet itself only comes around every 75 years.

Actually seeing an Orionid in the Live Sky Cam was a pleasant surprise because the viewing angle was far from ideal. Our Live Sky Cam is pointed toward the west horizon which was about 90 degrees away from the constellation of Orion at 5am EDT when this image was recorded.  The Orionids radiate from the direction of the Orion constellation — hence their name.

Here’s a bright Perseid meteor we photographed in August.  A much more spectacular flash but not nearly as pedigreed as the Orionid.

Orionid Meteor Shower to Peak This Weekend (Oct 20-21)

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012 10:58pm EST

The 2012 Orionid meteor shower will peak this weekend! Look for the greatest numbers of meteors to streak the sky in the dark hours before dawn on Saturday, October 20, and Sunday, October 21, with forecasters giving the nod to Sunday. Fortunately, the waxing crescent moon will set way before the prime time hours for watching the Orionids.

The Orionid meteor shower isn’t one of the year’s richest, but it’s pretty. Every year it produces up to 20 “shooting stars” visible per hour before dawn given good sky conditions.

The Orionids have an illustrious parentage. Like the Eta Aquarids of May, they are bits of debris shed long ago by Halley’s Comet. The two showers are essentially one and the same; Earth intersects a single, broad stream of meteoroids at two places in its orbit on opposite sides of the Sun.

Sky & Telescope