See the transit of Mercury Monday, November 11

Photo: 2016 Transit of Mercury. Photo by James Guilford
Transit of Mercury, May 9, 2016. A cloudy sky left occasional openings for views of tiny Mercury slowly gliding across the solar disk. Photo by James Guilford.

UPDATE: The Transit of Mercury program planned for Edgewater Park has been canceled due to a forecast of clouds, rain/snow, and below freezing temps. We’ll have to try again in 13 years when the next transit comes around.

The planet Mercury will cross between Earth and Sun on Monday, November 11, 2019. Given clear skies, members of the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association (CAA) will be stationed at the lower level of Edgewater Park offering safe viewing of the event. Viewing times at Edgewater will be from noon until just after 1:00 p.m.

CAA members will be present with their solar-safe telescopes offering several ways of viewing our Sun. Cloudy skies will, of course, cancel the event. No tickets or reservations are required; those interested should simply come to the park. The transit is a natural, astronomical occurrence and cannot be rescheduled; when it has finished, it is finished!

Anyone with eclipse viewing glasses would be able to view the transit but without the magnification offered by a telescope, the event will be hard to see. Mercury, officially a planet, is not quite three times the size of Earth’s Moon. Viewed from Earth, around 48 million miles distant, Mercury is tiny!

The 2019 transit begins at about 7:35 a.m. and will end at 1:04 p.m. November 11. Another transit of Mercury won’t take place for 13 years.

WARNING: NEVER look directly at the sun through binoculars, a telescope, or with your unaided eye. Permanent eye damage and even blindness can result. Astronomers use special filters and glasses to safely observe the sun. Sunglasses, photo negatives, etc. will not protect against eye injury.

July Membership Meeting: LIGO Part 2

Madeline Wade, Ph.D.

The July 2019 membership meeting of the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association (CAA) will take place Monday, July 8, beginning at 7:30 PM.

Featured speaker for the evening will be Dr. Madeline Wade, Assistant Professor of Physics, Kenyon College. Dr. Wade writes: “The Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (aLIGO) has been making ground-breaking discoveries since the moment it turned on in 2015. The LIGO and Virgo Scientific Collaborations have published results for 11 total gravitational wave detections. We have detected gravitational waves from ten merging black hole systems and one merging neutron star system. In this talk, I will give an overview of gravitational-wave physics, the LIGO detectors, and give some highlights of the current discoveries. I will also discuss some of the current and ongoing research I am involved in, including calibration of the LIGO instruments and applications of machine learning algorithms to improve the quality of LIGO data.”

The CAA’s monthly meetings are held on the second Monday of every month (except December) at 7:30 PM at the Rocky River Nature Center; 24000 Valley Parkway; North Olmsted, Ohio, in the Cleveland Metroparks. Meeting programs are open to the public. Following the presentation and a brief social break, the club will conduct its membership business meeting.

Happy Solstice 2019!

Photo: Solstice Sunset by Alan Studt
After Sunset: A crowd gathers at Lakewood Park, enjoying sunset on June 21, 2019. Photo by Alan Studt.

The Cuyahoga Astronomical Association (CAA) was well-represented this year at the annual Lakewood Solstice Celebration held on the shores of Lake Erie. CAA members brought 11 telescopes to help support a successful annual Summer Solstice program at Lakewood City Park.

Photo: Child gets support looking through telescope. Photo by Alan Studt.
Getting by with a little help, a boy is supported as he looks through a solar-safe telescope at the Sun. CAA President William Murmann tends his scope. Photo by Alan Studt.

Lakewood Park features an amphitheater-like Solstice Steps facility where visitors are able to view the Great Lake. The evening event draws thousands and boasts food, music, activities and, thanks to the CAA, safe solar viewing and after-sunset astronomy.

Photo: CAA Members at Lakewood Park. Photo by Carl Kudrna.
Plenty going on as CAA members tend their telescopes either offering views of the Sun or waiting til sundown and darkness. Photo by Carl Kudrna.

Attendees enjoyed clear, sunny skies for most of the day right up until just before sunset. Safe solar viewing was offered through a variety of telescopes and filters though, because Sun was at Solar Minimum, there wasn’t much to see on old Sol’s face.

Photo: Seeing the Sun. Photo by John D. Burkett.
Viewing the Sun through a large refractor telescope. Photo by John D. Burkett.

A group of clouds moved across the Lake Erie horizon from the northwest covering the Sun and obscuring Mars and Mercury, which also should have been visible at sunset.

Photo: Partial Sunbow. Photo by Alan Studt.
Clouds and crowds during sunset at the 2019 Lakewood Solstice Celebration. A portion of a sunbow forms an arc at the right. Photo by Alan Studt.

After sunset, however, Jupiter rose above the trees in the east, providing an opportunity to show visitors Jupiter and a few of his Galilean Moons.

Photo: Telescope silhouetted. Photo by Alan Studt.
A grand vintage telescope is silhouetted against the blue evening twilight as a guest views planet Jupiter. Photo by Alan Studt.

CAA member Jay Reynolds again organized and coordinated the Solstice astronomy program with the city of Lakewood. Reynolds passed along compliments from the city for the timely and organized manner in which members arrived, unloaded, and kept the flow going as members set up their telescope systems.

Photo: Telescope and Eyepiece. Photo by John D. Burkett.
Waiting for Dark. A telescope is set up, waiting for dark skies and an opportunity to view Jupiter. Photo by John D. Burkett.

Lakewood city officials and staff welcomed and supported CAA as part of their annual event. Lakewood Mayor Mike Summers and his wife, expressed how much they enjoy coming to the event and this (telescopes) was their favorite part!

Photo: Lakewood Solstice Steps. Photo by Alan Studt.
Lakewood Park’s Solstice Steps at sunset. Photo by Alan Studt.

The Lakewood Solstice Celebration is one of several public events in which CAA members provide astronomy outreach programming. “It’s what we do.”

This report by CAA President William Murmann and others.

Public Night at Letha House Saturday, June 8

Photo: Waxing Crescent Moon, July 29, 2017. Photo by James Guilford.

Come see deep-sky objects, planets, and the Moon up close using the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association’s (CAA) telescopes, from 9:00 to 11:00 PM, Saturday, June 8.

The CAA Observatory will be open for public viewing, and members will be available to answer your questions. Activities and/or displays will be set up inside the barn for further interest on cloudy nights. Given clear enough skies, visitors may view Earth’s Moon, planet Jupiter, and star clusters through a variety of member-owned telescopes.

This is an outdoor program so attendees should dress appropriately for conditions; use of insect repellent is also recommended.

Click here for more information about the observatory and its location!

April 8 Membership Meeting: The Great Melbourne Telescope rises again

Photo: Author Trudy E. Bell, M.A.
Trudy E. Bell, M.A.

The April 2019 Membership Meeting of the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association will take place on Monday, April 8 beginning at 7:30 PM. The evening’s program, “Rising From the Ashes: Restoration of the Great Melbourne Telescope,” will be presented by Trudy E. Bell, M.A. Ms. Bell is a Sky & Telescope Contributing Editor, 2006 recipient of the American Astronomical Society’s David N. Schramm Award, and board member of the Antique Telescope Society.

When completed in 1869, the Great Melbourne Telescope was the world’s largest equatorial reflector. Today, 150 years later — after a bushfire that devastated the Mount Stromlo Observatory — Australian opticians and machinists are restoring the GMT to become one of the world’s largest telescopes for public outreach! Ms. Bell’s latest article about the restoration appears in the October 2018 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine.

Photo: Photo: The Great Melbourne Telescope was built by Thomas Grubb of Dublin in 1868 and erected at Melbourne Observatory in 1869. It was a reflector telescope with a speculum (metal) mirror of 48 inches. Image Courtesy:  Museums Victoria
Photo: The Great Melbourne Telescope was built by Thomas Grubb of Dublin in 1868 and erected at Melbourne Observatory in 1869. It was a reflector telescope with a speculum (metal) mirror of 48 inches. Image Courtesy: Museums Victoria

The CAA’s monthly meetings are held on the second Monday of every month (except December) at 7:30 PM at the Rocky River Nature Center; 24000 Valley Parkway; North Olmsted, Ohio, in the Cleveland Metroparks. Meeting programs are open to the public. Following the presentation and a brief social break, the club will conduct its membership business meeting.

March Membership Meeting

Robert Owen, Ph.D. - Oberlin College Photo
Robert Owen, Ph.D. – Oberlin College Photo

The March 2019 Membership Meeting of the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association will take place on Monday, March 11 beginning at 7:30 PM. The evening’s program, “Gravitational Waves from Colliding Black Holes,” will be presented by Rob Owen, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy, at Oberlin College.

Dr. Owen is a member of the Simulating Extreme Spacetimes collaboration (www.black-holes.org), which carries out supercomputer simulations of colliding black holes and neutron stars. Such simulations are essential for relating gravitational wave signals (such as those measured by the revolutionary LIGO observatory) to the astrophysical sources that produce them. In this talk he will describe the work and the often misunderstood physics of black holes and how they relate to the structure of space and time!

The CAA’s monthly meetings are held on the second Monday of every month (except December) at 7:30 PM at the Rocky River Nature Center; 24000 Valley Parkway; North Olmsted, Ohio, in the Cleveland Metroparks. Meeting programs are open to the public. Following the presentation and a brief social break, the club will conduct its membership business meeting.

“Looking for the Dark” at the CAA’s Monthly Membership Meeting: February 11

John Ruhl, Ph.D. Photo Credit: CWRU
John Ruhl, Ph.D. Photo Credit: CWRU

The Monday, February 11 meeting of the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association, will feature John Ruhl, Ph.D., Professor of Physics and Cosmology at Case Western Reserve University, as guest speaker. In his talk, “Looking for the Dark,” Dr.Ruhl will describe the latest findings from two new and unique projects designed to utilize gravity waves and the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation to search for the mysterious Dark Energy that is causing our universe to expand!

Following the presentation and a brief social break, the club will conduct its membership business meeting.

The CAA’s monthly meetings are held on the second Monday of every month (except December) at 7:30 PM at the Rocky River Nature Center; 24000 Valley Parkway; North Olmsted, Ohio, in the Cleveland Metroparks. Meeting programs are open to the public,