Chicago Sky color average
February 3, 2012 8:03 AM   Subscribe

I need the color of the sky in Chicago every day for the last year. Does this exist anywhere?

Or, I need an average of the color of the sky in Chicago over the course of a year. Does this exist? Would Tom Skilling know? Thanks.
posted by Sreiny to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This isn't an answerable question....color is subjective based on whose eyes are looking, and photos capture different colors depending on settings. Do you mean, how sunny or cloudy it was?
posted by agregoli at 8:09 AM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm guessing the average is a very dark grey, since ~50% of that time was night.
posted by Grither at 8:10 AM on February 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I should clarify a bit. Let's say the sky during the day, when it has color. Yes, I understand this is a wacky question, but I've been asked at work to find out what the average "blue" the sky color is for Chicago last year. I suspect it's more of a gray, due to the winter, but wondering if there's a webcam or something that captured the sky every day, that I can access. Thanks.
posted by Sreiny at 8:13 AM on February 3, 2012

Not sure about sky color by historical weather data for the US can be found through the National Weather Service

There are several Chicago webcams linked on the right side of this page. They don't seem to offer much of an archive, but maybe if you contacted their operators they'd have something?
posted by Wretch729 at 8:16 AM on February 3, 2012

Wasn't there a website where you could put in a search like NYC or Canada*, and it would come back with a picture that was a composite of all the google image search results for that picture? If you could find that, maybe you could try putting in Chicago or Sears Tower or something to see what color the sky came out as?

* - the result for this was basically a stylized canadian flag.
posted by Grither at 8:19 AM on February 3, 2012

So, sort of like the Spencer Fitch Creative Time installation on the High Line in NYC?

I think he used his own camera over the course of a day (or 700 minutes). I don't know whether any webcams write their images to disk over the course of a year without deleting them.

I'm not sure you'll strike jackpot here, but maybe some of the weather services or local schools with astronomy departments will have these images.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:20 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

You should be able to find a time lapse video of the Chicago skyline for a whole year if you do some hunting. From that you can pick a portion of the frame that has a clear shot of the sky and extract that sample from each frame, then average them together.

I'm assuming from the tone of your question that the result does not have to be terribly scientific or accurate so you could just eyeball it, look at a color chart and pick whatever color will satisfy the person who wants it.
posted by ChrisHartley at 8:22 AM on February 3, 2012

Seriously, if that's really the question, tell your boss it isn't possible to answer. You can find web cam pics or flickr pics and make an average of those photos, if that's what they're after, but it won't answer the question you posed.
posted by agregoli at 8:23 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's probably the same as anywhere else (except factoring in that the night sky is not terribly dark, owing to the lights). It's brilliantly blue on and off throughout the spring and summer, unless it's raining, and except for those awful hot days when you get civilization haze settling over everything. It's grey and often dull in the winter, except on days when it's almost white from cold or when the weather breaks and it's again brilliantly blue. Mostly in the fall, it's a soft normal pale blue, like it is in the spring. You get nice dovegrey tones in the cooler months and mostly babyblues in the warmer months. It gets lavenderish at dusk and pinkish in the morning. You don't often get those greenish thunderstorm/tornado skies, but it happens, usually when there are tornados in the collar counties.

Also, you can extrapolate the color of the sky from the color of the Lake, and you're more likely to find shots of the Lake each day than of the sky.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:32 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sky color does change according to latitude - for example.

It also changes with season, with the tilt of the earth's axis with respect to the sun - the sun is higher in the sky in summer for example.
posted by carter at 8:43 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes, this is definitely something I would ask Tom about. I could see him getting excited about your question and trying to help you figure this out. He's so into his brand of geekery, he just might already know this one. Honestly, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if he bike-messengered you a color swatch he keeps on hand just in case someone asks!
posted by heyho at 8:49 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: We have emailed Tom Skilling, and are in the process of tweeting to him as well!
posted by Sreiny at 10:37 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I bet you could find someone in Chicago that's doing this project. There's a ravelry group listed at the bottom of that entry, which appears to be moderately active.
posted by tchemgrrl at 10:39 AM on February 3, 2012

Advanced search in Flickr for photos tagged with "Chicago" and the "Search by Date" set to "Photos taken" with the beginning and end date set to the same day. That gives you a set like this:

Then hunt for a picture that includes the sky. Repeat for the other 364 days.
posted by swift at 11:08 AM on February 3, 2012

posted by swift at 11:10 AM on February 3, 2012

I don't have the answer to your question, just reacted to all the "this is unknowable". Talk to the guys with this site and see if they have buddies doing similar in Chicago., the average color of the New York sky, updated every 5 minutes.

I would agree with those suggesting some sort of "pic a day" projects, or webcams with a little sky.
posted by Iteki at 7:46 AM on February 4, 2012

Best answer: My buddy Cameron was collecting that data, you should contact him. Links:
posted by mike_bling at 9:14 AM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

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