Contact information

Ursa Astronomical Association
Kopernikuksentie 1
00130 Helsinki

Ursa Astronomical Association

Frequently asked questions about making observations

Who can participate and in what language?
Everyone is welcome to submit observations. Participation does not require Finnish citizenship or membership in Finnish astronomical associations. The observation report can be written in Finnish, Swedish or English.

Can an observation made abroad be reported?
We collect observations on phenomena visible in Finland and the surrounding areas of our country (Northern Europe). Occasional observations made by users abroad are also accepted. Observations from abroad are especially welcome when it is a significant celestial phenomenon (like eclipses) that is not visible in Finland.

Who owns the copyrights to the material?
The copyright of the images and texts in the observation remains with the author her/himself. The author only grants the right to publish the images and text in the observation system. The submitter of the observation is required to enter only images and text into which he or she holds the copyright.

What phenomena are observed?
Almost all astronomical and atmospheric phenomena are covered by Skywarden, as shown by browsing the Images and Stories pages.

Observations of the following phenomena are welcome in the system:

1.) Deep space objects (only observations with images)

2.) Sun and Moon (only observations with images)

3.) All solar system objects like planets and asteroids (only observations with images) 

4.) Comets (observations without an image are welcome, but the observation needs to contain details of the comet's appearance, like estimate of brightness)

5.) Satellites

6.) Eclipses

7.) Fireballs

8.) Meteor storms

9.) Auroras / Northern lights

10.) Noctilucent clouds

11.) Storms

12.) Halo phenomena

13.) Other atmospheric phenomena, like rainbows, coronae, mirages or mother of pearl clouds

When should there be a picture in the observation?
Atmospheric light phenomena such as northern lights, common halos, and fireballs can sent as eyewitness observations without an image. If the observed phenomenon is rare, attaching photographs to the observation is important.

Most of the solar system (see list above for details) and all deep space objects require a photograph or drawing to be attached to the observation. A non-image observation can be sent of comets, as long as the observation otherwise has content - for example, a verbal description of the appearance of the object or an estimate of its brightness.

What kind of images are allowed?

All images at Skywarden must be documentary, since the system is meant for storing citizen science observations. In particular, the main image of the observation should clearly represent the title and category of the observation. Images may be processed to highlight information in the image data, but no additional, artificial elements may be added to the images.

What is the maximum duration of observation?
The observation should cover a maximum period of one day (Sun above the horizon) or a period of one night (Sun below the horizon). When the sun is invisible for a long time in Lapland, for example, during the night of observation, the observation night is the period between two noon (12 noon).

Exceptions are the publication of light curves and the collection of light from the deep space objects lasting longer periods and several nights. Images from different observation days or nights should not otherwise be combined with the same observation.

I exposed my deep space objects on several nights. Which time should I use on the observation?
As noted above, the observation service receives images of deep space objects where exposures consist of images from different nights, even at different years of the year. The observation time should be the time of the last exposure on the series of images.

How many observations can I publish about the same phenomenon display?
One observer, from the same location, is expected to make one observation from essentially the same event/display. If, during the phenomenon, you move to another location (e.g., municipality or 50-100 km away), you can make another observation from the new observation location.

For which phenomena are observations not collected?

1.) Unidentified lights that change their course during the flight or last more than 20 seconds   Unrecognizable lights that make turns are usually airplanes, helicopters, drones or Air Force fighter torches. They are not part of the observation program.

2.) Aircraft contrails: Aircraft vapor trails are not included in the observation program. Especially on winter mornings and evenings, the low sun can illuminate the vanes of airplanes very strongly, allowing them to give the impression of a fireball. However, a fireball usually lasts only a few seconds.

3.) Very common light phenomena of no research interest Observations of ordinary morning or evening colours, cloud rays or asphalt mirages, colonas on the lawn droplets, or normal colors of the sky are not collected to the Skywarden. Rainbows or fog rays from artificial light sources are not collected in the system either.

4.) Conventional cloud types Normal lower, middle and upper clouds are not included in the observation program due to their common frequency. On the other hand, rare special types of clouds named in the observation form's additional information list can be reported to the Skywarden. These do not include the conventional bases of thunderclouds.

5.) A single observation of the brightness of a changing star Individual brightness observations of variable stars are better suited for semiregular.com. However, in the astronomy, brightness curves can be published as summaries of the behavior of an object over a longer period of time.

6.) Notifications that a common celestial body is visible A mere statement that the Moon, Sun, a planet, or a deep kky object has been seen in the sky does not exceed the observation threshold. On the other hand, self-drawn observation images of the same objects are very much welcome.

7.) Wide angle landscapes with Sun or Moon. The movement of these objects is extremely well known and documented. Therefore the object should contain some information descibing the target's current state. This most often requires images of larger magnification/zoom taken with telescope or telephoto lens. The surface of the target should be exposed so, that it still shows details (sunspots or craters).


I sent an observation / comment, why isn't it visible on the site?
An observation or comment may not immediately appear in the system as incoming material goes through moderation. Moderators e.g. help identify phenomena. There are about 15 volunteer moderators, but it still sometimes (especially during holidays) takes longer for an observation or comment to be published.

Can I still change my observation's contents?
Yes you can. You will receive a link to the new observation in your email, which will allow you to edit your observation. It's a really good idea to save these edit-link-containing messages together in one email folder.

How do I comment on other people's observations?
When commenting on the observations and photographs of others, we ask that this be done in accordance with good manners and netiquette, that is, without offending fellow enthusiasts and without going into personalities. Any criticism should be constructive and kindly presented.

What do I do if I find material that shouldn't be in Skywarden or is against the rules or contains incorrect identifications?
Moderators handle cases where an observation is archived or an image is deleted. A public comment on a topic can be unmotivating and embarrassing to the observer. In these cases, it is better to contact the maintenance at taivaanvahti (at] ursa.fi.

System administration can also be contacted in situations where you disagree on the identified observation phenomena. More than 10,000 observations arrive at the Skywarden every year. In practice, not all observations can be checked 100% thoroughly.

Why was my observation or comment not published?
1.) Wrong topic The observed phenomenon is not included in the observation program. See the above answer to the question "What phenomena are observed?"

2.) Incorrect or incomplete name: The observer must user his/her own first and last name. If you do not want your name to appear on the Internet when sending an observating, you can turn off the checkbox "My name can be shown as the sender of the observation" on the observation form. Even then, the correct full name must be entered in the field provided. When commenting on an observation, the name displayed on the internet is always required.

3.) Incorrect email address You must provide your own valid e-mail address when sending an observation or comment. If the address is missing or contains a non-existing address, the observation or comment will be rejected.

4.) Image is not licensed If the moderators have good reason to suspect that the observation contains an image to which the sender does not have all copyrights, the observation will most likely be rejected.

5.) The observation or image is incorrect An observation may be rejected if there is good reason to believe that the observation or its image is not authentic. For example, an eclipse happens at the wrong time or an image contains artificial elements.

6.) Inappropriate Content If text or images contain content that is against good manners or netiquette, they may be removed from the system. Pseudoscience is also considered inappropriate content.

7.) Commercial Content The system is not intended for marketing of products or services.

8.) Double observation If you have made the same observation twice. Meaning that if the observer, observed phenomenon and the location are exactly the same and about the same event, the user will be asked to combine the observations into one. Otherwise the the administration selects the observation, that will stay visible and archives the rest. In some rare cases with strong research interest, administration may give permission to publish several observations of the same rare phenomenon.   

How are my observations handled?
System maintenance experts have the right to make corrections to the phenomena of observation if they are not correst or are missing. For more information on handling observations, see the system's privacy statement (in Finnish).