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.

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CAA at Lakewood Summer Solstice Celebration

Photo: After sunset scopes pointed skyward and offered views of planets Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn. Photo by James Guilford.
After sunset scopes pointed skyward and offered views of planets Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn. Lakewood Solstice Celebration 2016. Credit: James Guilford.

The Cuyahoga Astronomical Association (CAA) will, once again, be a major activity at the city of Lakewood’s annual Summer Solstice Celebration. The event takes place in Lakewood Park and on the park’s lakefront Solstice Steps feature on Thursday, June 21 from 6:00 to 10:30 PM.

Operating within the constraints of sunlight and twilight viewing conditions, club members will set up their telescopes and offer public viewing of Sun, Moon, and planets. Planets Venus and Jupiter will be readily visible, given clear skies, as will be the Waxing Gibbous Moon. Some fainter objects may be viewed later.

CAA member Jay Reynolds is coordinating the club’s participation with organizers of the very popular celebration.

An event flyer is available here: Lakewood Summer Solstice Celebration

Summer Solstice Celebration: Who we are

Photo: On the Solstice Steps - 2017, by Alan Studt
On the Solstice Steps – 2017, by Alan Studt

by Jay Reynolds, CAA Observatory Director

June 22 — If you could not attend last night’s Lakewood Summer Solstice Celebration, it was something extra special.

The clouds dissolving into blue skies, a small crowd building into thousands gathered by the water’s edge. Without instruction, slowly quieting, to watch the magic that they had come for: a magnificent sunset. As the top of the Sun, disappeared, the quiet, polite, spontaneous sound of applause could be heard.

CAA was there.

Aside from all the “other” activities, the solstice steps and CAA telescopes were the most embraced by the crowd. At each scope, lines and lines to catch a glimpse of Sun and Jupiter!  All while a “friend of the club” provided event drone coverage, with a requested emphasis on CAA.

Photo: Suzie Dills, Michael Estime, Jay Reynolds Observe the Sun, by Carol Lee
Suzie Dills, Michael Estime, Jay Reynolds Observe the Sun, by Carol Lee

Our friends at Channel 3 came out in force, with their drone, a live remote truck, a reporter doing a story on Lake Erie, and Michael Estime doing weather hits. Michael specifically pointed out CAA several times, with CAA, busy in the background doing what we do best! Our own Nora Mishey, specifically, in one of the “weather hits” to show how much fun she was having.

Photo: Climbing High to See the Sun, by Alan Studt
Climbing High to See the Sun, by Alan Studt

Last year was the first city of Lakewood Solstice event. Last year’s attendance estimates, by police, were 3000-4000 people. This year, Lakewood police estimated attendance… 15,000. They base that on Lakewood’s, usual Fourth of July attendance. Last night was equivalent. Not all 15,000 were by us, or the steps. At the Celebration’s peak, people were spread out over the entire park.

Photo: Solar Filter Card, by Alan Studt
Solar Filter Card, by Alan Studt

While we can only estimate how many actual people we served, attendance makes last night one of the largest non-dedicated astronomy events that we’ve supported. (Our largest dedicated astronomy event was 2012 Transit of Venus which 7,500 attended.)

Photo: A Bucket Full of Sunlight, by Alan Studt
A Bucket Full of Sunlight, by Alan Studt

Members were on their feet from 4:30 till 10:30 with no breaks, too many smiling people to speak with! As the evening progressed, you could hear the familiar sounds from telescope viewers expressing the happy appreciation of the views of our Sun, Jupiter and its moons. Of course when Saturn came into the scopes, you heard breathless disbelief and the question, “Is that a sticker?”  “That can’t be” or the quiet statement “Wow!”

Photo: Anticipation Grew High as Sun Drew Low, by Alan Studt
Anticipation Grew High as Sun Drew Low, by Alan Studt

We can be proud of not only our representation, but the patience and kindness of our members. Even members who did not have scopes were engaging the audience and making sure visitors “got the most” out of it.  Visitors were polite and showed outright appreciation and said thank-you a lot!

Photo: Gary Kader's Antique Telescope Projecting Solar Image, by Alan Studt
Gary Kader’s Antique Telescope Projecting Solar Image, by Alan Studt

Finally, we earned the gratitude of Lakewood City Hall organizers and the mayor’s office.  Not just gratitude but increased equity in our already good relationship. Organizers, and the mayor, expressed their appreciation so many times during the evening. At the end of the night, overwhelmed by such success, we were asked three times, “what can the city do for CAA?”  Not something we generally hear after an event.

Photo: Spectacular Solstice Sunset, by Alan Studt
Spectacular Solstice Sunset, by Alan Studt

All this, is a demonstration of this organization, it’s who we are!

Solstice Celebration a huge success

The night of June 21 the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association (CAA) participated in the city of Lakewood’s Summer Solstice Celebration. The event, featuring food, music, dance, and frivolity, really focussed on the solstice sunset and the beginning of summer. Representing the CAA, CSU astronomy instructor Jay Reynolds worked with city officials to coordinate safe solar observing through club member telescopes. Reynolds also convinced officials to extend Celebration hours slightly to allow attendees to observe nighttime objects through telescopes.

Reynolds reported that, “In the end, the event drew more than 4,000 to watch a sunset, do some crafts, eat at a food truck (with Lakewood Hospital “Stroke Truck” next to them), look through some awesome telescopes and interact with some really inspiring, kind and generous representatives of the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association!  Really well done!”

A tremendous crowd was present, parking up city streets for blocks and covering the Lakewood Park Solstice Steps at the lakefront. There were lines at food trucks and, later, at telescopes, but plenty of space for families to spread out and enjoy the show — both natural and human-made.

To view a brief video via Twitter, click here.

Here are some photographs made during the celebration….

Photo: Celebration attendees cover the Lakewood Park Solstice Steps as they watch the Lake Erie Sunset. Photo by James Guilford.
Celebration attendees cover the Lakewood Park Solstice Steps as they watch the Lake Erie Sunset.
Photo: Girl views Sun through a CAA member's telescope. Photo by James Guilford.
Girl views Sun through CAA member Tim Campbell’s telescope.
Photo: Two young ladies view the Sun through a rather short telescope. Photo by James Guilford.
Two young ladies view the Sun through a rather short telescope brought by David Nuti for kids smaller than these!
Photo: Oh yes, the sunset! The Celebration was blessed with a gorgeous Lake Erie sunset. The crowd broke into applause as the last bit of red-orange sun disappeared below the horizon! Photo by James Guilford.
Oh yes, the sunset! The Celebration was blessed with a gorgeous Lake Erie sunset. The crowd broke into applause as the last bit of red-orange sun disappeared below the horizon!

“Immediately after the sun dipped below the horizon, we were mobbed with people,” according to Reynolds. “…they saw very good views of Jupiter and its moons, Mars with polar ice cap and dark regions, and Saturn with its rings, and a lot of people saying WOW!”

Photo: Jay Reynolds, gesturing as attendees view Jupiter, coordinated CAA's participation in the Celebration. Photo by James Guilford.
Jay Reynolds, gesturing as attendees view Jupiter, coordinated CAA’s participation in the Celebration.
Photo: CAA President Bill Murmann watches as young woman views Jupiter. Photo by James Guilford.
CAA President Bill Murmann watches as young woman views Jupiter.
Photo: Long line of folks wanting to view Jupiter through Suzi Dills' big Meade. Sorry about blocking your smiling face, Suzi!
Long line of folks wanting to view Jupiter through Suzi Dills’s big Meade. Sorry about blocking your smiling face, Suzi!
Photo: A long line to view planets through an 1874 Alvin Clark & Sons refractor. Nope, the scope isn't bent, it's only fisheye lens distortion! {whew!} Photo by James Guilford.
A long line to view planets through an 1874 Alvin Clark & Sons refractor, brought by Gary Kader. Nope, the scope isn’t bent, it’s only fisheye lens distortion! {whew!}
Photo: A Dobsonian light-bucket affords views of Saturn to a little girl. Photo by James Guilford.
A Dobsonian light-bucket affords views of Saturn to a little girl.

“Towards the end of the night, the representative of Lakewood came and remarked what a nice group we were and it looks like everyone had a great time. She also remarked how appreciative they were, that CAA supported their event and brought these wonderful telescopes.” Reynolds said, “My comment to her was: “this is who we are, this is what we do”.

Photo: After sunset scopes pointed skyward and offered views of planets Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn. Photo by James Guilford.
After sunset scopes pointed skyward and offered views of planets Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn. Bob Wiersma’s large home-built refractor was a crowd favorite.

Jay Reynolds and the CAA express their thanks for bringing the scopes to the following: Rich & Nancy Whistler, Bill Murmann, Gary Kader, Chris Christe, Dave Nuti, Tim Campbell, Carl Kudrna, Bob Wiersma, Steve Spears, and Suzie Dills. Thanks, too, Anita Kazarian who helped coordinate viewers among the scopes and provided information.