Members of the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association (CAA) rose early June 10 to view, photograph, and promote the (locally) partial solar eclipse. Already in progress as Sun rose above the horizon, the annular eclipse or “ring of fire” could not be seen but decent coverage of the solar disk did result in some impressive views.
In addition to watching the eclipse members, led by special events director Jay Reynolds, hosted members of the public at Cleveland’s Edgewater Park. The view from Edgewater’s lakefront location included the rising partly-eclipsed Sun with the lakeshore and Cleveland’s skyline.
Other members took up station at Avon Lake, Bay Village, and even inland at a Medina County location. Here, in mixed order, is a sampling of member photographs:
They say timing is everything and, with eclipses, that is certainly true. Unfortunately, timing will not be in our favor for viewing the Wednesday, May 26 total lunar eclipse. Earth’s Moon will be dipping very close to the horizon as morning twilight brightens hiding the most colorful portion of the event — totality — when Moon turns shades of copper and red. The subtle penumbral eclipse as Moon enters Earth’s outer shadow and will likely be even harder to see than usual. The partial phase of the eclipse begins as Moon enters the dark inner portion of the shadow cone and is easily spotted under other circumstances. Even the partial eclipse begins so late with Moon so close to the horizon that only a lucky few Ohioans will see any part of it.
Penumbral Eclipse begins
May 26 at 4:47 a.m.
Partial Eclipse begins
May 26 at 5:45 a.m.
Total Eclipse begins
May 26 at 7:11 a.m.
May 26 at 7:18 a.m.
Eclipse Timings — Eastern Daylight Time — Northeastern Ohio
The good news? Lunar eclipses can occur only at the time of a Full Moon and this event features a perigee Moon — our natural satellite at a particularly low portion of its orbit around Earth — appearing just a bit bigger and brighter than average. “Low”, in this case means 221,880 miles out. So, if skies allow, get out and enjoy the big, brilliant Full Moon tonight — it’s a natural wonder in its own right.
Still want to watch the eclipse, even though we can’t see it from here? Just do an online search for live eclipse viewing opportunities or tune in to your favorite morning TV news show; they’ll be broadcasting from the West Coast or Hawaii where the eclipse can be properly seen!
Don’t despair, hang in there, dear moonwatcher! Come this November 19, in the wee hours of the morning, we will be in an excellent position to see a nearly total lunar eclipse from our own backyards! More on that at a later time!
The May 10, 2021 membership meeting of the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association (CAA) will take place via the Zoom online service beginning at 7:30 p.m.
The evening’s speaker will be Kelly Beatty, Senior Editor of Sky & Telescope magazine, whose talk is entitled “Darkness in Distress”
Light pollution, simply put, is any unnecessary or excessive outdoor illumination. Sadly, it has become a pervasive and ugly consequence of modern 24/7 society. Light pollution robs us of the night sky’s beauty, negatively affects the ecosystem, and creates an in-your-face waste of energy. But a new mindset and new technology are poised to slow — and perhaps reverse — this bane of modern life. Learn how you can safely light up your home, business, and community without wasting energy, disturbing your neighbors, or creating an unhealthy environment for humans and wildlife.
Beatty has been explaining the science and wonder of astronomy to the public since 1974. An award-winning writer and communicator, he is a Senior Editor for Cambridge-based Sky & Telescope magazine. He enjoys sharing his passion for astronomy with a wide spectrum of audiences, from children to professional astronomers, and you’ll occasionally hear his interviews and guest commentaries on National Public Radio and The Weather Channel. He served for a decade on the Board of Directors for the International Dark-Sky Association.
MARCH 30 — New observations with the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (ESO’s VLT) indicate that the rogue comet 2I/Borisov, which is only the second and most recently detected interstellar visitor to our Solar System, is one of the most pristine ever observed. Astronomers suspect that the comet most likely never passed close to a star, making it an undisturbed relic of the cloud of gas and dust it formed from.
Comet 2I/Borisov was discovered by amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov in August 2019 and was confirmed to have come from beyond the Solar System a few weeks later. “2I/Borisov could represent the first truly pristine comet ever observed,” says Stefano Bagnulo of the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, Northern Ireland, UK, who led the new study published today in Nature Communications. The team believes that the comet had never passed close to any star before it flew by the Sun in 2019.
Bagnulo and his colleagues used the FORS2 instrument on ESO’s VLT, located in northern Chile, to study 2I/Borisov in detail using a technique called polarimetry. Since this technique is regularly used to study comets and other small bodies of our Solar System, this allowed the team to compare the interstellar visitor with our local comets.
The team found that 2I/Borisov has polarimetric properties distinct from those of Solar System comets, with the exception of Hale–Bopp. Comet Hale–Bopp received much public interest in the late 1990s as a result of being easily visible to the naked eye, and also because it was one of the most pristine comets astronomers had ever seen. Prior to its most recent passage, Hale–Bopp is thought to have passed by our Sun only once and had therefore barely been affected by solar wind and radiation. This means it was pristine, having a composition very similar to that of the cloud of gas and dust it — and the rest of the Solar System — formed from some 4.5 billion years ago.
By analyzing the polarization together with the color of the comet to gather clues on its composition, the team concluded that 2I/Borisov is in fact even more pristine than Hale–Bopp. This means it carries untarnished signatures of the cloud of gas and dust it formed from.
“The fact that the two comets are remarkably similar suggests that the environment in which 2I/Borisov originated is not so different in composition from the environment in the early Solar System,” says Alberto Cellino, a co-author of the study, from the Astrophysical Observatory of Torino, National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF), Italy.
Olivier Hainaut, an astronomer at ESO in Germany who studies comets and other near-Earth objects but was not involved in this new study, agrees. “The main result — that 2I/Borisov is not like any other comet except Hale–Bopp — is very strong,” he says, adding that “it is very plausible they formed in very similar conditions.”
“The arrival of 2I/Borisov from interstellar space represented the first opportunity to study the composition of a comet from another planetary system and check if the material that comes from this comet is somehow different from our native variety,” explains Ludmilla Kolokolova, of the University of Maryland in the US, who was involved in the Nature Communications research.
Bagnulo hopes astronomers will have another, even better, opportunity to study a rogue comet in detail before the end of the decade. “ESA is planning to launch Comet Interceptor in 2029, which will have the capability of reaching another visiting interstellar object, if one on a suitable trajectory is discovered,” he says, referring to an upcoming mission by the European Space Agency.