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The SQM or Sky Quality Meter  is an instrument which measures the brightness of the sky in MPSAS (magnitudes per square arcsecond).  For night time skies, this typically ranges from <18.0 to 22.0 – higher numbers indicate darker skies.  This data is collected and updated every 5 minutes throughout the night.  Acquisition begins and ends at Civil Twilight (dusk to dawn).  All times are Mountain Time (US & Canada).  The NELM (Naked Eye Limiting Magnitude) is the apparent magnitude of the faintest star an observer can discern under given sky conditions.  The limiting magnitude depends strongly on variables such as sky transparency and the observer’s experience and acuity of vision.  NELM can range from 4 to 8 with higher numbers visible only with telescopes.

 New Mexico Skies Clear Sky Chart

This chart displays additional sky conditions in the vicinity including cloud cover, transparency, and seeing with respect to wind, humidity, and temperature.  New Mexico Skies is approximately 3/4 mile SSW of Redshift Observatory.


SQM Data Chart

Above is a chart of the Night Sky Brightness data collected throughout the current night with the SQM at Redshift Observatory.  On the upper chart, MPSAS is the y-axis and time is the x-axis.  The smaller chart has NELM for the y-axis.  These charts shows the relative change in brightness throughout the night.  Both are essentially saying the same thing and should track each other.  This is real time at night and is still a work-in-progress (chart and data scripts provided by Rick Young).

Below are links to various sky and weather monitoring stations located in the area, including several other local real time all-sky viewing cameras as well as some more generalized NOAA weather links.