A View of Orion


This image of the Orion Nebula (M42) was recorded from the CAA Letha House observing site. Member Christopher Christie wrote that he made the image “during the September new moon with a 65mm refractor and DSLR. As for all the details, I forget most. But it was a Canon T3, 1600 ISO with my AT65EDQ, about 3 hours of subs, stacked and processed in Pixinsight.”

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The Beautiful “Elephant Trunk”

IC 1396 - The "Elephant Trunk" Nebula in Cepheus, by Joe Golias

IC 1396 – The “Elephant Trunk” Nebula in Cepheus

by Joe Golias

We were fortunate enough to have clear skies this past weekend and I managed to do some narrowband imaging from my back yard in Granger, Ohio. I’d like to share with everyone one of my latest CCD images taken of the Elephant trunk nebula IC 1396 located in the constellation of Cepheus. I often wonder why I bother traveling great distances to dark sky sites like Texas and Florida when I can get results like this from my back yard in Ohio!

Imaging details: Telescope: Takahashi TOA 150 Refractor. Camera: SBIG ST8300M with self-guiding filter wheel. Mount: Losmandy: G-11. Exposure times in narrowband: 4 hours SII filter with 20-min. sub exposures, 4 hours OIII filter with 20-min. sub exposures, 4 hours HA filter with 20-min. sub exposures. Location: Granger, Ohio. Processed in MaxIm DL, Images Plus, Pixinsight, and Photoshop. Final RGB combination was converted using the Hubble color palette, HST.

CAA Member Joe Golias is (obviously) an expert astro-imager and is owner of Astrozap, a Cleveland-area company that produces astronomy accessories.

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Partial solar eclipse gets great exposure, reviews

Photo: Solar eclipse sequence by Stan Honda.

Solar Eclipse Sequence from Voinovich Park, by Stan Honda

Members of the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association (CAA) were present across the Greater Cleveland Area both hosting and participating in observation of the October 23 partial solar eclipse. The club hosted an event at Voinovich Park in Downtown Cleveland, assisted with an event at Gordon Park with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and observed from the Chapel Hill Mall parking lot (Cuyahoga Falls), Mapleside Farms (Brunswick), Bradstreet Landing (Rocky River), and the Avon Lake Boat Launch. Members watched and, in some cases, imaged the sunset eclipse.

Photo: Partial Solar Eclipse, October 23, 2014, by Dave Watkins.

Note the Large Sunspot Group Near Center, Long Filament Near Top – Image by Dave Watkins

Member and event organizer Jay Reynolds wrote, “At Voinovich Park, I had so many compliments about the quality of the event and the generous members ‘letting us use their equipment’ and ‘sharing with us’. Six people commented ‘how nice everyone was’, ‘What a great group to do this’, ‘We are so lucky to have such a proactive group’, ‘They really connected us with something special, I had no idea’, and ‘This was great’.”

Photo: Observers at Voinovich Park, by Jay Reynolds.

Observers at Voinovich Park, Cleveland, by Jay Reynolds

The eclipse and the CAA received widespread media coverage, according to Reynolds, including pieces on WTAM, Fox 8, WKYC, and others. Channels 3, 8, and 19, during their evening news broadcasts, credited the club with the event. Reynolds also learned that WKYC (Channel 3) was streaming the event live via the Internet and recorded more than 1,000 viewers.

Photo: Partial Solar Eclipse. Photo by Dave Nuti.

Eclipse Image Through the Eyepiece – Christopher Christie’s Telescope, Photo by Dave Nuti

Carl Kudrna: “I can report a nice turnout at Bradstreet’s Landing too. I had about 20 folks/children at my scope, and using the transit viewing filter too. We had a good view all the way to maximum then the sun started hiding behind trees along the cliffs. We had great views of the huge sunspot area at low center. Couldn’t see the sunset but we watched there till around 7:00. One young lady and her daughter had the only other scope there – a nice scope from the ’70s – a 60mm Unitron with a handsome wooden tripod. Due to the absence of a filter for it, they used the projection method of viewing the sun…. It was a great time.”

Dave Watkins: “I ended up at the north west corner of the parking lot at Chapel Hill Mall in Cuyahoga Falls. There were about 10 people there. Somebody called security on us, so we got a visit by the mall security. They said they got a call about a large group of people behaving strangely.”

Photo: Partial Solar Eclipse with airplane. By Matt Franduto

Lucky Catch – See Airplane Near Bottom of This Image! – by Matt Franduto

Matt Franduto, observing from Mapleside Farms with another club member, wrote of his photo (above), “It was late, Carl and I were getting a little frustrated with the clouds and I was having a little trouble keeping the sun centered for my imaging.  I snapped off a few shots, not really expecting much.  Then I got home and saw the {airplane}.” He believes this may be a “once in a lifetime shot!”

Astronomy enthusiasts often complain about Northeast Ohio’s often less-than-perfect skies (being polite here) but one man disagreed with that assessment.

Photo: Suzie Dills and Stan Honda, by Jay Reynolds

CAA Member Suzie Dills with New York City Visitor Stan Honda, by Jay Reynolds

“A special guest, Stan Honda, came all the way from New York City in an 8-hour drive to see the eclipse and to take photos at Voinovich Park,” reported CAA President William Murmann. “Stan is in a club that has star parties in New York’s Central Park, where he said they basically can just see the Moon and a few bright objects. Stan emailed me earlier this month about coming to Cleveland to see the eclipse. It was great to meet him!”

Photo: Eclipse Viewers in Avon Lake. Photo by James Guilford.

Eclipse Viewers at Avon Lake Boat Launch’s Fishing Pier. Photo by James Guilford.

Steve Korylak and James Guilford viewed and photographed from the Avon Lake Boat Launch fishing pier along Lake Erie. A good-sized crowd of perhaps 100 gathered there and the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center, Bay Village, led public viewing.

Streaks of Cloud and a Giant Sunspot Group Cross Sun's Face - Photo by James Guilford

Streaks of Cloud and a Giant Sunspot Group Cross Sun’s Face – Photo by James Guilford

Lakefront viewers were hoping for a colorful sunset with the eclipsing Sun sinking into the waters of Lake Erie. That didn’t happen. Instead, as the eclipse progressed, it descended into a bank of Lake Clouds streaking, at first, the brilliant crescent-shaped Sun, then covering it entirely. The clouds made for a dramatic and mysterious view, memorable in its own way.

Photo: Eclipsing Sun sinks into Lake Clouds. Photo by James Guilford.

Eclipse Ends in Clouds, by James Guilford


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Late-day eclipse to be a challenging view

Image: Oct 23 eclipse begins.

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

UPDATE: There will be two public viewing events taking place along Cleveland’s lakeshore beginning by 5:30 PM: Voinovich Park on the lake at East 9th Street, and Gordon Park on the lake at East 72nd Street and the Shoreway. Both events will provide telescopic views of the eclipse, and both are free of charge. There is, however, a parking fee for those driving to Voinovich Park. — 10/21/2014

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 locally at 5:42 PM EDT as Moon begins its passage between Sun and Earth, blocking a portion of the light. 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. Because this will be a partial, rather than total eclipse, no-one will see Sun fully-covered by Moon. 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 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, for us) during local sunset, which is around 6:30 PM. The low elevations put the eclipse into a region of the low sky filled with obstructions such as 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 could be a dramatic event during this eclipse. If you have the chance to safely watch, please do!

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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