Wrapup: The CAA & Transit of Venus program

by William Murmann, CAA President

This month, we had one of the most successful public events in the history of our club with the 2012 Transit of Venus program at Edgewater State Park in Cleveland on Tuesday, June 5.

We worked with Cleveland State University, Baldwin-Wallace College, the Cleveland Astronomical Society (CAS), and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Edgewater State Park staff to present a program that provided an opportunity for about 7,000 people to personally use telescopes to observe one of the major astronomical events of this century and of our lifetimes.

I think it’s important to document our transit program here in our newsletter and on our website, and to recognize our members who provided most of the telescopes used at Edgewater State Park to observe Venus during the transit.

CAA member Jay Reynolds, a professional astronomer who teaches at Cleveland State University, personally organized and coordinated the transit program. Here are the major participants who worked with Jay:

Cuyahoga Astronomical Association. CAA members provided most of the 30 or so telescopes that were used for public observations during the June 5 transit, and helped assemble the 5,000 No. 5 optical-grade Mylar solar viewers that were given away to the public. CAA President Bill Murmann participated in planning and supporting the program.

Cleveland Astronomical Society. CAS President Bob Sledz and his wife, Ingrid, worked on the transit project. Bob designed the Mylar solar viewers, which were paid for by a personal donation from CAS member Joanne D. Denko, M.D. CAS members helped assemble the solar viewers, and manned a table during the transit program to distribute the viewers free of charge to the public.

Cleveland State University. CSU’s College of Science, represented by Jay Reynolds, was a major supporter of the Transit program. CSU science students helped with the event.

Baldwin-Wallace College. B-W Observatory Director and CAA member Gary Kader and science students from the college provided telescopes and other support during the program. The college also created and distributed special souvenir bookmarks commemorating the transit.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources. ODNR officials and Edgewater State Park staff provided outstanding support and planning for the transit program. Park Rangers and staff provided extra security, traffic control, and other services that helped make the Transit a great success.

Exhibitors. Ten exhibitors set up information tables for the transit program, including the Cleveland Astronomical Society, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the International Women’s Air & Space Museum, the U.S.S. Cod,  the Friends of Edgewater, Akron radio station WNIR, Baldwin-Wallace Admissions, Cleveland State Admissions, and the CSU Wolstein Center.

The Natural History Museum’s Observatory Coordinator and CAA member Clyde Simpson and Planetarium Coordinator Jason Davis brought a desktop solar telescope for use at the Museum’s information table.

NASA Glenn Research Center. While not an official exhibitor, NASA Glenn sent their Satellite Truck and Video Projection Truck to show a live video feed of the transit as seen in Hawaii.

News Media Coverage. The transit and CAA received extensive news media coverage before, during, and after the event, thanks to interviews and promotion done by Jay Reynolds. Media coverage included The Plain Dealer, Fox TV 8, WTAM, WNIR, WKYC, WEWS TV, WDOK, and WCPN.

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CAA Telescopes. CAA members who brought their personal telescopes for the public to observe the transit include: Gary Kader, Bob Pence, Jay Reynolds, Bill Murmann, Susan Petsche, Jim Cofer, Tim Campbell, Bill & Carol Lee, Bruce Lane, Lynn Paul, Carl Kelley, Bob Wiersma, Matt Franduto, Steve & Gail Korylak, Steve Spears, Trevor Braun, Suzie Dills, Gus Waffen, Ted Sauppé, and Chris Christe.

Members and others who helped at Edgewater without telescopes include: Steve Gallant, Ron Devine, Kathy Ruffus, Isabel Guadiz-Tobey, and Mary Ann Wadsworth.

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Thanks to the support of our members and other sponsoring organizations and individuals, this was a memorable program. Many thanks to all!