When we recently we announced the launch
of the new Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium website
, we deliberately held back mention of the new Eye on the Sky section because it's really its own mini-site (and project for us), deserving of its own announcement post.
As you may or may not know, Eye on the Sky
is a collaborative project of Vermont Public Radio
and the Fairbanks Museum
, that seeks to provide detailed regional weather forecasts and broadcast them out over the public airwaves, or as VPR describes it
The Eye on the Sky provides region-wide, detailed weather information complemented by science, history, astronomy, and lore. Special features focus on farm and garden information, seasonal recreation, and storm coverage.
All of that and we made it mobile friendly too! Like the rest of the Fairbanks site, we built the Eye on the Sky site using responsive design that provides users the "full" experience, regardless of their device and screen size.
Beyond being a responsive site and part of the larger Fairbanks website, the EotS site required a lot of custom functionality to archive historical weather forecast data and the integration of audio forecasts recorded for VPR broadcasts.
In addition to the custom coding and programming that handles the technical heavy lifting on the Eye on the Sky site, strategic planning was needed to make it all work - both for users and the Eye on the Sky Guys
who upload the forecasts to the website and audio clips to Sound Cloud.
Vermont Historical Weather Forecast Archives
As I mentioned, it was important to the Eye on the Sky
folks that the new site create pages for historical daily weather forecasts. But in order to have forecasts archived, they first need to be created.
We built a custom tool in our content management system that includes dozens of fields the EotS meteorologists can use to enter information for detailed and extended forecasts, recreational forecasts and farm & garden forecasts, each day. To simplify the process, we even added a feature that allows the EotS Guys to plug the text into a spreadsheet and then click one "Import" button to populate all of the fields.
Whether imported or entered manually, when a new day record is created an archived page for that date is as well. Users can access all forecast archives using a calendar view date picker and these archive pages actually get indexed in search results because they all exist as their own static pages. (Note to EotS meteorologists: This means you better be accurate in your forecasts, because now there's a record!)
Sound Cloud Integration
As part of a partnership between VPR
and the Fairbanks Museum
, the audio broadcasts of the daily, recreational, midday and farm & garden forecasts are a major part of Eye on the Sky - but not everyone can be by their radio when the broadcasts air. To make these audio forecasts available on-demand, EotS began uploading them to SoundCloud
. As part of the EotS website overhaul, we integrated these audio clips using the SoundCloud API and by creating a tagging structure that causes specific clips to appear in the appropriate places on the site.
The Eye on the Sky website almost has too many features to mention - from the Weather Terms Glossary
and Eye on the Night Sky
astronomy forecasts to live maps for temperature & wind
, clouds & precipitation
, and radar
- EotS provides a wealth of useful weather forecast information to allow you enjoy the outdoors, be it through stargazing, gardening or recreation, all while gaining a better understanding of the natural forces at work.
If you haven't already visited the Eye on the Sky website, check it out when you have a chance and please let us know what you think in the comments below.
Eye on the Sky