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Blue Hill
Notes from the Observer's Office
Members are Always Welcome
About our Facility
The Green Box
Spectacular Views From The Summit
WINS Program Expands Mentoring Efforts
December Skies
Have Your Event at Blue Hill
About Us
Future Events
Blue Hill Observatory Links
Notes from the Observer's Office
November Cold Wave Among Coldest on Record

Five consecutive days with temperature minima below 20F, 11/19-23, was only the third occurrence on record and first since 1917. This was also the earliest such period on record. Considering daily mean temps, the 5 day (11/19-23) and 6 day (11/18-23) periods were the 7th coldest on record for November and coldest since 1938. One colder period in 1933 was earlier.

Five or more days in November with minimum temperatures below 20F:
    11/25-30 in 1903 *
    11/25-29 in 1917
    11/19-23 in 2008
* 6 days

Five day periods
(mean temps, deg. F)
11/25-29: 19.1 in 1903
11/26-30: 20.6 in 1901
11/25-29: 21.6 in 1917
11/25-29: 22.2 in 1938
11/21-25: 22.3 in 1888
11/15-19: 23.4 in 1933
11/19-23: 24.2 in 2008

The coldest six day periods in November all occurred in the early records of the Observatory before 1940, the latest of which is 23.6 occurring 11/24-28/1938 followed by 25.3 on 11/18-23 in 2008.
Blue Hill Observatory Members are Always Welcome

One of the benefits of membership is that you are welcome to visit the Observatory 365 days a year (as long as we have staff here to greet you!). 

We are open to the public for tours on weekends (resuming on Saturday February 14, 2009), but we are closed during the week when we host visits from community and school groups. 

If you are a member and would like to visit during the week, please contact us and we will do our best to welcome you to the Observatory. 

If you are hiking on the hill, and see the CLOSED sign on the door, please knock on the door and we will accommodate your visit whenever possible.

Click HERE to become a member of the Blue Hill Observatory.
About our Facility
The Blue Hill Observatory is a National Historic Landmark.

Our facility on top of Great Blue Hill has many resources, including a History Room and Library, climate archives, computer lab, and a backyard barbecue. 

From the tower roof, you can enjoy a 360 degree view of the Boston skyline, the mountains in central Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and Providence, Rhode Island.

Our gift shop, offering snacks, beverages and unique gifts, is open to the public on weekends.

Please come visit!
The Green Box
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Green Tip for the Holiday Season

Most gift wrap, greeting cards, gift boxes and packaging can be recycled, along with food and beverage containers. 

Remember to give the Earth a gift this holiday season and recycle! 

Make a New Year's Resolution to recycle; contact your city or town for more information.
Join Our Mailing List
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Blue Hill Observatory P.O. Box 500
Milton, MA 02186

Executive Director Charles Orloff
(508) 776-1879

Program Director
Don McCasland
(617) 696-0562

December 2008
Issue 2
Welcome to Sky-mail!
Sky-mail is the electronic newsletter of the Blue Hill Observatory Science Center. Sky-mail will keep you up-to-date on Observatory events, important weather news and milestones and future plans.
Spectacular Views from the Summit
Blue Hill Haze Camera
By George Allen, Senior Scientist, NESCAUM

If you've ever been up to the Blue Hill Observatory (BHO) tower on a clear day, you know that the view is spectacular, with vistas of more than 70 miles.  But if you were up there on a 3-H (Hot, Hazy and Humid) summer day, you might not have been able to see downtown Boston very well even though it is only 10 miles away.  The difference?  Fine-particle air pollution (PM2.5), along with high humidity, usually associated with a high pressure system off the central-Atlantic coast that pumps up warm, moist, and polluted air from the SW.  The BHO has worked with NESCAUM (an organization that works with the 8 northeast states - since 2005 to operate a "hazecam" from the tower to provide the view on the web, updated every 15-minutes.  Unlike the ubiquitous "webcams", a hazecam is a very high resolution picture.  The BHO hazecam has 2 cameras (northeast and northwest views) with a total of 16 MP resolution, and is part of a network of similar hazecams called Camnet at: (or from the Webcam tab on the BHO home page), along with 9 other hazecams in the northeast.  Camnet's purpose is to show the effects of air pollution on various rural and urban scenes, along with an indication of PM2.5, black carbon soot, and ozone levels (for the BHO hazecam these data are from Boston, not BHO).  More detailed information on current pollution levels in Boston is at: or at the U.S. EPA's AIRNow web site:  One of the other 9 Camnet sites is in Swampscott, and looks back at BHO from 22 miles away:  Here's an example of a BHO Camnet picture of downtown Boston on a very clear (clean) day that demonstrates the resolution of these photographs:
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When the visibility is good, you can see the north shore and Cape Ann in the right picture, and Mt. Wachusett (44 miles) and the Monadnock range (65 miles) in the left BHO hazecam zoomed images.  Links to similar hazecams around the country are at:
The U.S. EPA has a "regional haze" regulation that is intended to reduce visibility degradation from man-made sources by 2064 at Class I airsheds like Acadia National Park that "should be" pristine.  More information on that program can be found at:  But haze is not always "regional".  Sometimes in urban areas it is local vehicle exhaust trapped by an inversion layer, hanging over the city as a grey layer.  When this happens, the black carbon data from Boston can get very high for a few hours.  An example of this can be found on the Camnet home page, as the "featured event".  Finally, I would like to acknowledge the state air agencies and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service for funding Camnet, and hazecam hosts such as the BHO for in-kind support of on-site Camnet operations.

WINS Program Expands Mentoring Efforts
WINS logoThe Women in Natural Science (WINS) program is an educational initiative of the Blue Hill Observatory geared toward middle and high school aged girls from Boston and surrounding communities.  WINS seeks to inspire girls to learn about math, science and technology using a natural science curriculum and "hands on minds on" learning experiences. 
We are working to improve our mentoring program for high school girls to help them make education and career choices.  We are please to report that we have been invited to participate in the Intentional Mentoring Initiative.  This opportunity has been made possible by the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley in conjunction and the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston.
For more information about WINS, please contact
Stephanie Radner.
December Skies
By Kelly Beatty, Clay Center Astronomer
Clay Center Obseratory, Dexter and Southfield Schools

Although the weather has turned cold, December can sometimes bring clear skies of remarkable clarity -- all the better so see some nice celestial events in the coming weeks.

On December 21st at 7:04 a.m. EST, the Sun reaches its *solstice,* marking the astronomical beginning of winter and the longest night of the year (15 hours 00 minutes in Boston).

The year ends with a nice pairing of dazzling Venus and a 4-day-old crescent Moon on New Year's Eve. They'll be a little farther apart (3 degrees) than they were earlier this month, and Jupiter won't be joining them this time.

And the new year begins with another nice meteor shower, the Quadrantids. If you can talk yourself into getting up in the darkness before dawn on Saturday, January 3rd, you might be rewarded with one of these shooting stars every minute or so.

Have Your Special Event or Fundraiser at Blue Hill
blue hill logoAre you looking for a unique destination for your next meeting or special event?

How about the Blue Hill Observatory?  We have the perfect room for a small business or club meeting, birthday party or other special affair.  The Observatory is a beautiful location for hosting charity fundraisers.  Your guests can learn about the incredible history of the Blue Hill Observatory while enjoying the most beautiful view in southern New England. Call Charles Orloff at 508-776-1879 for reservation details.
From the Observatory Store
Bag, hats, mug
Get carried away with our new Blue Hill tote bag. 

This durable and attractive tote is perfect for use as a small grocery bag or book tote.  It makes a great holiday gift for your favorite weather enthusiast and is environmentally friendly, too!  Just $7.50

Special logo combo of mug, tote bag and embroidered cap (specify blue or gray) for just $25 (including tax, shipping, and handling).

Check out our other specials:
  • Purchase $50.00 worth of books from our online bookstore and get a Blue Hill Observatory logo tote bag FREE.
  • Buy the new book Weather: The Ultimate Book of Meteorological Events from Accord Publishing and get your choice of either Climate (Ochoa, Hoffman, Tin) or Extreme Weather (H. Michael Mogil), as well as a free tote bag, for just $67.50 (including tax, shipping and handling).
To order by phone call 617-696-0562 or come to the Observatory gift shop to see all of our great products and find out about other specials.
Blue Hill Observatory and Science Center
Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory, located at the top of a scenic mountain range south of Boston, is a unique American institution. Founded in 1885 by Abbott Lawrence Rotch as a private scientific center for the study and measurement of the atmosphere, it was the site of many pioneering weather experiments and discoveries. The earliest kite soundings of the atmosphere in North America in the 1890s and the development of the radiosonde in the 1930s occurred at this historic site.

Today, the Observatory is a National Historic Landmark and remains committed to continuing its extensive, uninterrupted climate record with traditional methods and instruments. The recently established Science Center expands this mission by enhancing public understanding of atmospheric science.

We are grateful for the generous support of members, friends and corporations who make it possible to continue our benchmark climate observations and educational outreach programs.  Please email Charles Orloff if you would like to make a donation to the Observatory.
Future Events
Monday February 16, 2009
President's Day Kite Fly and special kite tours of the Observatory. 
Hours: 10AM - 4 PM
Kite Tours: $5/adult, $3/youth
Build and decorate your own kite for just $5.  We have a great selection of ready to fly kites from $3 to custom kites over $2000, and everything in between.

Monday April 20, 2009
Patriot's Day Kite Fly and special kite tours of the Observatory.
Hours: 10AM - 4 PM
Kite Tours: $5/adult, $3/youth
Build and decorate your own kite for just $5.   

April is National Kite Month.  BHOSC will be participating in most events.  For a full list of events, please check the NKM website:

Saturday May 9, 2009

Annual Blue Hill Observatory & Science Center Spring Open House.
Hours: 10AM - 4 PM
Admission is free.  There will be many activities throughout the day, including crafts, kite building, self-guided tours and more.  Check the BHO Events page for updates:    

Monday May 25, 2009
Memorial Day Kite Fly and special kite tours of the
Hours: 10AM - 4PM
Kite Tours: $5/adults, $3/youth
Build and decorate your own kite for just $5.

The gift shop, educational programs and tours of the Observatory are
available by appointment almost every day of the year.  General Tours and gift shop hours resume Saturday February 14. Please call
ahead (617-696-0562) if there are questionable weather conditions.
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Blue Hill Observatory | P. O. Box 500 | Milton | MA | 02186