Late-day eclipse to be challenging

Image: Oct 23 eclipse begins.

Simulation: Just after the eclipse begins, about 7 degrees above horizon.

The evening of Thursday, October 23, a partial solar eclipse will be visible from Northeastern Ohio, fleetingly, however. The weather forecast looked promising at this writing but the Sun/Moon position will be a big issue.

The eclipse will begin at 5:42 PM EDT as the Moon begins its passage between Sun and Earth, blocking a portion of the light. The Sun’s image (viewed through solar-safe filters or in webcasts via the Internet) will show a steadily-increasing “bite” missing from its bright disk. All the while, the Sun-Moon combo will be sinking towards Sun-Moonset. Viewing will be difficult requiring the most distant horizons available to local observers.

The event will begin with first contact (on the Sun’s right-hand limb) and the eclipse just a bit more than 8 degrees above a clear horizon! That’s really low! The eclipse will reach its maximum coverage (50+ percent) during local sunset, which is around 6:30 PM. The low elevations put the eclipse into a region of the sky filled with local obstructions like trees, buildings, hills, etc. and the thickest, murkiest portion of the atmosphere.

Image: Oct. 23 eclipse at sunset.

The Oct. 23 partial solar eclipse will reach maximum during sunset.

Still, we don’t see that many solar eclipse opportunities for viewing locally. Sunset should be a dramatic event, during this eclipse. If you have the chance to safely watch, do it!

WARNING: Viewing the Sun is potentially dangerous to your vision! You MUST use proper filters to prevent permanent eye damage when looking at the Sun, eclipsed or not! Sunglasses are not safe for eclipse viewing, nor are exposed film, compact discs, polarizing filters, or other such gadgets. Read this article.

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October 8 total lunar eclipse

Photo: Lunar Eclipse Composite by Jay Reynolds

Lunar Eclipse Composite by Jay Reynolds

The sky was clear and the early morning weather chilly for the beautiful total lunar eclipse of October 8, 2014.

Cuyahoga Astronomical Association (CAA) members watched the event from around the Northeast Ohio Area and in one case, from another state while on vacation. The Mapleside Farms parking lot in Brunswick was a popular gathering place. The restaurant and fruit market is perched on the eastern rim of the expansive Columbia River valley affording the most distant horizon, most open sky locally available; the eclipse reached totality with the Moon low in the west – near moonset/sunrise – so visibility low to the horizon was important!

CAA President Bill Murmann reported two club members, true early-birds, arrived at the lot at 3:30 AM! As the eclipse progressed others, including Murmann, arrived.

Photo: Umbral Shadow Crossing Moon by James Guilford

Umbral Shadow Crossing Moon by James Guilford

He wrote, “There were about 20 to 25 cars in the parking lot, including two police cars. The police were also there to see the eclipse and enjoyed the view through {a} telescope. Other folks seemed to be mostly photography buffs and naked-eye observers.”

The eclipse’s darkening of the sky afforded views that might otherwise have been missed. “Winter constellations were overhead, including Orion and the Pleiades, etc.,” Murmann wrote. “As the the Earth’s shadow gradually covered the full Moon, several faint stars and Uranus became visible around the Moon. Uranus was at about 10 o’clock, while the stars 96 Piscium and HIP 3869 were at 2 and 5-o-clock, respectively.”

Skywatchers now await a partial solar eclipse — an event naturally paired with lunar eclipses — hoping for clear skies the afternoon and evening of October 23. After all, why not have a second show when everything’s already lined up?

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September 8 meeting: Buying & Selling Equipment

The September meeting of the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association (CAA) will take place September 8, beginning at 7:30 PM, at the Rocky River Nature Center of the Cleveland Metroparks. CAA member Trevor Braun will present the night’s program, “Buying/Selling Used Astronomical Equipment.” Club business will also be conducted.

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Almost Full Moon

Photo: Earth's Moon, August 7, 2014. Photo by David Watkins.

Almost Full Moon

by Dave Watkins

I was playing around with stills, videos, and some different cameras last night (August 7).

This was 1080P video mode from my Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera and Celestron EdgeHD 8-inch using prime (focus), T-adapter (with one section removed), at ISO 200. I shot about five minutes of video which came out to over 10,000 frames.

I used PIPP (Planetary Imaging PreProcessor) to find and sort the sharpest 1,200 frames. Then I used AutoStakkert! to use the sharpest 30 percent to stack.

The Moon filled up so much of the frame that I had to remove part of my T-adapter to slightly shrink the image on my 5D MarkII.

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Cloudy convention, warm inside

by William Murmann, CAA President

In spite of 100 percent cloud cover, thunder, and intermittent downpours, everyone seemed to have a good time Saturday (July 26) at our Annual Convention at Letha House.

About 39 guests attended the event, which included members, several spouses, and about 10 guests from the Black River, Chagrin Valley, and Mahoning Valley astronomy clubs.

We had a lot of good food.  Thanks to VP Tim Campbell, who brought the usual supply of discount-priced brats, wieners, and sausages — thanks to Five-Star Meats for their generous support.  Many thanks to Rich Whisler, who did all the grilling while being protected from the rain by Paul Leopold, Tim Campbell, and Marianne, who held umbrellas.

Many thanks to all those who brought yummy side dishes and desserts for the potluck supper.  We had a great selection of food, ranging from brats and potato salad to pizza, fried chicken, watermelon, and cupcakes and pies, etc.

A special thank you to Gail Korylak who set up the food line and who with her husband Steve did most of the clean-up when it was time to leave.  Gail and Steve have been a big help with our conventions for years.

Thanks also to Mike Williams and Jay Reynolds.  Mike gave an interesting presentation about star charts.  Jay discussed our observatory and gave lessons on the proper way to open and close its roof.

Special thanks to our Secretary Steve Gallant for all the work he did for months soliciting and collecting door prizes for our annual raffle. Thanks to Steve and our generous donors, we had a nice selection of prizes this year.

And speaking of door prizes, a big thank you to CAA member Joe Golias, owner of Astrozap, who donated $200 in gift certificates for this year’s event.

Finally, thanks to our Treasurer Suzie Dills, who did a ton of work signing people  in, selling raffle tickets, making change, and keeping track of all the financial stuff.  Suzie tells me that after paying for expenses the club made money on this year’s convention and raffle.

Thanks to all!  Apologies if I missed anyone.  Next year’s convention will be on Saturday, August 15,  2015.  Hopefully, we’ll have better weather!

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CAA Annual Convention coming July 26

by William Murmann, CAA President

Our officers and board extend a cordial invitation to our club’s Annual Convention at Letha House this coming Saturday, July 26.

  1. Registration will start at 2 PM
  2. At 3 PM, CAA Past President Mike Williams will be giving a presentation about star charts.
  3. After Mike’s presentation, our Observatory Director Jay Reynolds will offer training instructions on the proper way to open and close our observatory roof and on using our observatory telescopes.
  4. At about 5 PM, we will have our Potluck Supper. The club will provide grilled hot dogs, brats, and sausages–plus buns, lemonade, cups, paper plates and napkins, utensils, and condiments, etc. If you plan on participating in the potluck, please bring a covered dish or dessert that can be shared with a group.
  5. After supper, we will have a raffle of items donated by astronomy equipment vendors.
  6. After the raffle, we’ll have time for socializing and setting up equipment, etc. before our star party.

Letha House is an enclosed, air-conditioned shelter that has drinking fountains and two modern, indoor restrooms. We have an all-day and night reservation for the shelter and grounds.

Hope to see you there!

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Hubble Ultra Deep Field updated … with ultraviolet

Photo: Hubble Ultra Deep Field 2014

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field 2014 image is a composite of separate exposures taken from 2003 to 2012 with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide Field Camera 3. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, H. Teplitz and M. Rafelski (IPAC/Caltech), A. Koekemoer (STScI), R. Windhorst (Arizona State University), and Z. Levay (STScI)

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have captured the most comprehensive picture ever assembled of the evolving Universe — and one of the most colorful. The study is called the Ultraviolet Coverage of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (UVUDF) project.

Prior to this survey, astronomers were in a curious position. They knew a lot about star formation occurring in nearby galaxies thanks to UV telescope facilities such as NASA’s Galex observatory, which operated from 2003 to 2013. And, thanks to Hubble’s near-infrared and visible capability, they had also studied star birth in the most distant galaxies. We see these distant galaxies in their most primitive stages due to the vast amount of time it takes their light to reach us.

However, between five and 10 billion light-years away from us — corresponding to a time period when most of the stars in the Universe were born — there was a lack of the data needed to fully understand star formation. The hottest, most massive and youngest stars, which emit light in the ultraviolet, were often neglected as subjects of direct observation, leaving a significant gap in our knowledge of the cosmic timeline.

The addition of ultraviolet data to the Hubble Ultra Deep Field using Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 gives astronomers access to direct observations of regions of unobscured star formation and may help us to fully understand how stars formed. By observing at these wavelengths, researchers get a direct look at which galaxies are forming stars and, just as importantly, where the stars are forming. This enables astronomers to understand how galaxies like the Milky Way grew in size from small collections of very hot stars to the massive structures they are today.

The patch of sky in this image has been previously studied by astronomers in a series of visible and near-infrared exposures taken from 2004 to 2009: the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. Now, with the addition of ultraviolet light, they have combined the full range of colors available to Hubble, stretching all the way from ultraviolet to near-infrared light. The resulting image, made from 841 orbits of telescope viewing time, contains approximately 10,000 galaxies, extending back to within a few hundred million years of the Big Bang.

Since the Earth’s atmosphere filters most ultraviolet light, this work can only be accomplished with a space-based telescope like Hubble. Ultraviolet surveys like this are incredibly important in planning for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) as Hubble is the only telescope currently able to obtain the ultraviolet data that researchers will need to combine with infrared data from JWST.

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