Astrospheric integrates smoke data into its Transparency forecast to provide the best data for astronomers. This data is enabled by default (for free) and no special action is required turn it on.
Every summer almost everyone in North America has been impacted by forest fires and the smoke they produce. Once the smoke from these fires reach the Jet Stream, it is transported clear across the continent and dramatically reduces the transparency of the atmosphere above.
Astrospheric is the only astronomy forecast that takes smoke into account when building its Transparency data. The results offer a more realistic prediction of Transparency which can help us decide when and where to set up our scopes for a night under the stars.
To show the effects of incorporating smoke and other aerosols into the forecast, take a look at the forecast example below for Portland, Oregon on a very smoky day.
Fig 1: Smoke OFF : Smoke not incorporated into the Transparency forecast makes it look like it should be a perfect day!
Fig 2: Smoke ON : Smoke integrated into Transparency causing a decrease so large that the legend now indicates it's Cloudy!
Fig 3: The impact smoke has on Transparency is clearly shown on the map as well
Fig 4: Reality Check : This is a photo of Portland at the time the forecast was generated. Smokey!
The smoke data on Astrospheric updates every 6 hours along with the rest of the forecast data. Note that smoke is not forecasted as far into the future as the rest of the data simply because of the unpredictable nature of the fires generating the smoke.
Viewing smoke on the map is easy
Fig 5 : Select the Map Layer drop down above the forecast and choose "Smoke" or "Transparency"
Please note that the smoke forecast should not be used as an air quality forecast. The smoke layer presented on Astrospheric integrates smoke and aerosols in the entire column of air above a particular point. This is important to fully capture the impact to transparency (we are looking out of our atmosphere after all). Air quality reports usually focus on ground level air quality. This means Astrospheric may show dense smoke for your area that is kilometers above your head, even though you may still be experiencing good air quality.
Astrospheric Professional members will see the smoke sub-component of Transparency when it is strongly impacting the quality of the sky.