Wednesday, January 4, 2012

It's Official: 2011 Was the Worst Year for Astronomy in Recorded History

Rain can be fun to photograph mid-fall, but is's all-around bad news for astronomers!

For anyone who lives in Northeast Ohio's Cleveland area and who likes to look up at the night sky, there was no doubt about it: 2011 was one of the cloudiest years ever. Personally, ever since really getting into astronomy back in 2004, this was the worst year I can remember. Honestly, it seemed like there was nothing but wall-to-wall clouds for the first 6 months of the year (except when the Moon was near Full, of course!). Finally, come July, things cleared out in a big way, finally bringing the first multi-day runs of clear nights for the entire year. With the middle of August, you guessed it, the clouds were back, which is where they have stayed for the most part.

Well, according to the national Weather Service, 2011 was Northeast Ohio's worst season for astronomy as it was not only the wettest year on record, but the wettest by a wide margin since records began being kept in in the early 1870s. For Cleveland, we ended the year with over 65 inches of precipitation in 2011, more than 26 inches above the average. The old record from 1990? It's toast, being beaten by over a foot this year.

Here's hoping for a drier, and clearer, 2012!

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