Northern Lights Tonight…Bad Timing

We are expecting a lot of clouds tonight. This is bad timing because there is a pretty decent chance of seeing the Northern Lights this far south. Here is the forecast: Click the image to enlarge

Jan 9 Northern Lights


The green line on the image above shows how far south they might be visible. The forecast tonight is for a mostly cloudy sky across eastern Iowa. There is a clear sky in NW Iowa this afternoon. The satellite image below shows lot of clouds across eastern Iowa and areas to the South. The clouds are forecast to track northeast. So most areas will have clouds tonight. There is a slight chance our northwestern counties could have a clear sky for a few hours.

Jan 9 Vis Sat


Posted under Astronomy

This post was written by Schnack on January 9, 2014

Fireball Thursday Evening

At 5:40 PM something raced through the earth’s atmosphere and burned up. There were many phone calls to the station and on social media confirming  something happened in the sky. If you saw something at this time please tell us about it by filling out this form. This will help us a lot. Click here for the form.

As of 9:00 PM there is still some uncertainty as to what it was that crossed the sky. There has been a photo circulating on the web/social media showing what was said to be what just crossed the sky. With more fact checking the image was not from what happened today. The image below is courtesy of Brad Panovich of WCNC-TV.


Here is another look at the fake image from @Observing Space.


If I get any “real” photos or video of what raced across the sky this evening I will post it here on the blog.


Social Media comments:

“saw the sky light up in Charles City”

“Lit up in Decorah. Lit up the sky like lightning does.”

“We saw it in Waukon”

“Lit up the sky between Calmar and Decorah! All traffic slowed down!”

“I saw the flash north of Charles City about 5:40″

“We saw it Cresco as well. Look like lightning.”

“I was outside in Denver and the whole sky lit up”

“I was out in the yard in independence, just noticed a bright flash like lightning.”


Posted under Astronomy

This post was written by Schnack on December 26, 2013

The Earliest Sunset

The sunset in Waterloo today was 4:36 pm. This is the earliest of the year. Starting on the 12th the sunset will begin to set later each day.

Dec 6 Sunset


Posted under Astronomy

This post was written by Schnack on December 6, 2013

Northern Lights from Airplane

Earlier this month David Mayhew was on a plane that was flying over Canada. Looking out the window he saw the best “movie” an airline can provide. It was the northern lights. Click on the photo below to see a few more.

Oct 18 Northern


Click here for other nature photos from David Mayhew.


Posted under Astronomy

This post was written by Schnack on October 18, 2013

Northern Lights Tuesday Night


Posted under Astronomy

This post was written by Schnack on October 2, 2013

Harvest Moon

The full moon this month is Wednesday night (18th). The official time of the full moon is 6:13 AM on Thursday (19th). Not sure if we will get much clear sky as the storm system will be pushing through the area during the next couple of days. The full moon this month is called the Harvest Moon. It is the full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox (Sunday). Moon rise Wednesday is at 6:36 PM in the eastern sky. The moon will be low on the horizon making it appear to be larger than normal and with some clouds around the color could be a bit orange. Now lets cross our fingers for at least a clearing in the clouds Wednesday evening.


Harvest Moon


Posted under Astronomy

This post was written by Schnack on September 17, 2013

Northern Lights Friday Night

The Northern Light are visible this evening if the sky is clear where you are. They could be seen as far south as southern Iowa.

May 31 Aurora_Map_N

Here is just one photo in so far tonight of the Northern Lights taken north of Muscatine, IA by Paul Brooks.

May 31 Northern



Posted under Astronomy

This post was written by Schnack on May 31, 2013

Annular Solar Eclipse

Late this afternoon and evening (CDT) an annular solar eclipse occurred over Australia.
May 9 2013_may_10_eclipse_600

The images below were captured from the Coca-Cola Space Center website. It was streaming the eclipse live. By the time I captured the first image  at 6:06 PM CDT I missed the time the sun was the most covered. The three images that I did captured show how it changed in a little more than one hour. The inset image of the sky shows what the sky conditions were like compared to what the telescope was showing.

Click on the images below to enlarge.

May 9 Solar Final 2

Click here for more information about the eclipse.


Posted under Astronomy

This post was written by Schnack on May 9, 2013

The Moon and Saturn

If the sky is clear where you are later this evening…

Mar 29 Moon


Posted under Astronomy

This post was written by Schnack on March 29, 2013

Comet…Light Precip…Spring

UPDATED at 4:00 PM

Tonight: Increasing clouds. Low: 25-27. Wind: NW 5-10 mph.

Friday: Mostly cloudy with a 20% chance a light wintry mix NE of Waterloo in the morning and a 20% chance of light rain/snow shower in the evening north of Waterloo. High: 37 north to 51 south. Wind: shift from S to N 5-10 mph.

Friday Night: Mostly cloudy with a 20% chance of light rain shower changing to light snow shower. Low: 24-29. Wind: N 5-10 mph.

Saturday: Mostly cloudy. High: low-mid 30s.

Sunday: Mostly cloudy. High: mid 30s.

Monday: Cloudy and windy (SE to NW 15-25 mph) with a 30% chance of rain/snow. High: low-mid 30s.

Tuesday: Partly cloudy. High: low 30s.

Wednesday: Mostly cloudy and windy (SE 15-25 mph) with a 20% chance of rain/snow: upper 30s.

Thursday: Mostly cloudy and windy (E 15-25 mph) with a 20% chance of rain. High: upper 30s.

There are no storm spotter training classes this evening.

Training from surrounding NWS offices:

There are some high thin clouds northwest and are moving southeast this afternoon. Hopefully the sky will be clear enough in your back yard to see the Comet PanSTARRS again.

Here is a photo sent to me taken from Jones County last night.

Blog Graphic 1
Click on the image below for the viewing information this evening.

Mar 14 Comet

If you miss it tonight there are chances each evening for the rest of the month when the sky is clear.

Mar 14 Comet-Pan-Starrs
It might not feel like spring, but we are just days away from the vernal equinox (first day of spring). It officially arrives Wednesday, March 20 at 6:02 AM. The question now is…when will the weather feel like spring?

We are in a northwest flow aloft and this pattern is favorable for any areas of low pressure to quickly move in and out of the area. It also prevents any large storms from developing.

Mar 14 NW Flow
A front will be drifting south across Iowa Friday with a wide range of temperatures on either side of it. North of the front will be in the 30s and south of the front will be in the 50s. The front will sit somewhere between Waterloo and Cedar Rapids during the afternoon hours. There is a slight chance of a rain/snow mix northeast of Waterloo in the morning. There is a slight chance of a rain shower changing to snow shower during the evening north of Highway 20. A light snow shower is possible Friday night as temperatures drop into the 20s. Here is the WPC forecast map for 1 pm Friday.

Mar 14 1 PM Sfc Map

The weekend is still forecast be mostly cloudy with some sunshine each day. High temperatures will be 10-15 degrees below normal. The amount of precipitation if any that falls will be light. Here is the liquid equivalent forecast from Thursday evening to Sunday evening.

Mar 14 QPF
We are still tracking the next chance of rain/snow for Monday. Tuesday high pressure will provide us with sunshine, but for only one day. The next low we are tracking is forecast to bring a chance of rain/snow Wednesday and rain Thursday. There will be a lot of wind with Wednesday/Thursday storm…15-25 mph from the E/SE both days. Again spring begins Wednesday at 6:02 AM.


Posted under Astronomy, Forecast Discussion

This post was written by Schnack on March 14, 2013