A blog named for the muse of Astronomy containing musings by an astronomer

The One where I release Clear Sky Clock Widget version 1.3

Posted on October 24, 2008 by Juan

ClearSkyClock Half-Size Screen ShotEvery Semester in introductory astronomy we run a series of field trips out to the Paul J. Feder Observatory which lies about 14 miles from the MSUM campus. As such, I like to check the weather before going out there and usually do so with a quick look at Attilla Danko’s Clear Sky Chart website. It occurred to me it would be nice to see if a Dashboard widget to show the Clear Sky Chart existed. I found two. The one by Joshua Lynch worked well, but it had a major problem, it never listed the Paul J. Feder Observatory as a site I could examine. I ended up biting the bullet and looking at the code. Turns out Joshua Lynch released the code open source. Therefore, I felt free to start hacking on the Dashboard widget (learning how to program widgets in the process). The result is the Clear Sky Clock Widget (version 1.3). The key changes I made to the widget were:

  1. Fixed a parsing bug that prevented the loading of any Clear Sky Chart for sites containing parentheses or periods in their names. It was this bug that was interfering with the loading of our observatory’s Clear Sky Clock.
  2. Since the Clear Sky Chart is quite large and many people will use the widget on laptops with small screens, I added a “Half-size mode“. All you do is click on the “Toggle Size” link on the widget. This shrinks the charge and saves screen real estate.
  3. With Attilla Danko’s permission, I added a Built-in Legend (copied from his site) for interpreting the Clear Sky Chart to the widget. Just click on the charge and the legend appears. Click again and it goes away.
  4. I also added a link to the Clear Sky Charge site page, so if I wanted more detailed information, I can get it there.

I hope a few Mac-owning astronomers in the U.S. and Canada find this widget useful.

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