Delving into the weather led me to Radiosondes. Radiosondes are balloons with a small computer/measuring device attached. The device measures temperature, pressure, wind etc. at high altitudes and sends the information back remotely. As the balloon ascends, it expands due to decreasing atmospheric pressure, and eventually bursts. The device falls to the ground and is usually lost, so it’s a relatively expensive business. Radiosondes are launched from weather stations in every part of the world at least twice daily at exactly the same time (45 minutes before the official observation time) of 12 noon and midnight Universal Time. This means that meteorologists can get a complete snapshot of the atmosphere around the world at a particular moment.
If you happen to be in or around Cahirciveen, Co Kerry you can see Ireland’s radiosonde being launched at (12.20 GMT summertime) from the Valentia Observatory. The radiosonde is launched automatically from a structure that looks like a white shipping container. You can see it from the lane at the side of the observatory that leads down to a campsite. But keep your eyes open as it launches very quickly and it’s easy to miss the moment, but you will catch it ascending more slowly with its silvery information collector swinging below. The observatory itself is closed to visitors at the moment, but while you are there you could also take the car ferry across to Valentia Island and visit the very interesting Valentia heritage centre.