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The Weather Vizualization project began its development in the summer of 2010 with the goal to provide a web application for viewing the live data LCOGT was currently collecting at site – specifically, the weather data. I began my internship here under the directive to take on and complete this project. The first months were spent learning about the Django framework and experimenting with the various graphing libraries and methods used to collect user input. Soon, Eric Saunders would join the project as a mentor and consulting software engineer. His help proved an invaluable asset to the success of the project and we were able to release the first version for public use early the following summer.
At its base level of functionality, the Weather site displays the historical weather patterns for a selected time range and provides the current weather values so the user can easily see what is happening at the site in real time. The benefits of this are mainly so the user can evaluate the current viewing conditions and know whether or not they are conducive to making observations.
The development of these features required substantial planning and architectural considerations concerning the gathering and processing of the data from our Site Environmental Monitoring System (SEMS) and Weather Monitoring System (WMS) sensors. The Weather project is comprised of many lines of back-end code to store the values in a customized database, process the data values for the graphing of raw and derived values, and the graphing code which is written using the Python library Matplotlib. Each graph image is generated statically and served on the web page. This method increases the simplicity and speed of the site, keeping the graphing decoupled from the front-end user interface.
The front-end code contains the logic that is able to display the most recent values and explain the meaning of the data to the user. One of the key pieces of information displayed by the site is the enclosure open/closed status. Not only can the users see whether or not the current conditions will allow the dome to open but they can also see historical statistics on when and why the telescope has been closed in the past. This data is further supported with constantly updating live images of the sky at each enclosure site.
The website provides data on the enclosures located at Haleakala, Siding Spring, the Santa Barbara Back Parking Lot, and Sedgwick Reserve. As more telescopes join our network they will too be added to the Weather website. It is a very exciting time here at LCOGT and I think we can all look forward to the new sites that will soon be available to see and view on the weather pages in the months to come.
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