Cloud Free Night is an online weather forecast information service, for the benefit of the Australia & New Zealand astronomy and photography communities. It is unique in offering a comparison of the widely available forecasts from the United States GFS global model with higher resolution forecasts from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology ACCESS model.

Where does the weather forecast come from?

Almost every weather website and app you have ever heard of is providing data from the United States (NCEP) GFS model, because it is freely available, even for commercial use allowing anybody around the world to resell weather services using the same underlying data. However, as a global model this is far from the best source of forecasts for the Australian regions and New Zealand, particularly for short-term outlooks.

Cloud Free Night is the only service currently providing detailed cloud forecast information from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology ACCESS model which includes higher resolution regional and city models. Forecast maps over specific Australian regions and New Zealand, and meteograms summarising the forecast over the next ten days for particular locations are available. The maps allow you to toggle between the GFS and ACCESS models at any point while the meteograms present detailed cloud information or a summary comparison of the two models.

Where does the weather observations come from?

Cloud Free Night displays the latest radar images and high-resolution Japanese Himawari-8 satellite images via the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. The radar images are presented without location names using a modified colour palette for greater clarity. The high-definition satellite images are conveniently matched to the forecast map regions.

How does the Cloud Free Night service operate?

The Cloud Free Night service is hosted on a leased Virtual Private Server (VPS) where IDL® applications are run automatically to download the GFS and ACCESS model forecast data, and Bureau of Meteorology radar and Himawari-8 satellite images, to produce the forecast maps, meteograms, radar and satellite images available from this VPS-hosted website. IDL® is a registered trademark of Harris Geospatial Solutions for their Interactive Data Language software, used by astronomers worldwide.

The People

Cloud Free Night is operated by a small team from the Australia astronomy community. Please contact us if you would like a meteogram for your home town location or your club's observing site. We would also like to hear your suggestions to enhance the Cloud Free Night service.

Home Map Meteogram Satellite Radar FAQ About Contact