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!

January 20 – 21: Total Lunar Eclipse

Photo: Total Lunar Eclipse Sequence, February 2008
Total Lunar Eclipse Sequence, February 2008. – Images and Composite by Lynn Paul

Exciting News: A total lunar eclipse will take place January 20 – 21 and our area will be able to view the entire event, IF we are fortunate enough to have clear skies!

On the night of January 20, 2019 Earth’s shadow will cross the face of its Moon and viewers across North America will be treated to a total lunar eclipse. We, in Northeastern Ohio, are in luck this time as the entire eclipse will be visible to us given clear enough skies, of course.

Image: January 2019 Total Lunar Eclipse Timing - Credit: TimeAndDate.com
January 2019 Total Lunar Eclipse Timing – Credit: TimeAndDate.com

As the penumbral phase of the eclipse begins, at 9:36 PM, viewers will see the Full Moon gradually dimming, entering the lighter outer portion of Earth’s shadow. At 10:33 the partial eclipse begins and the disk of the Moon will show a dark, curved area expanding across its area. As the Moon moves deeper into shadow it will continue to darken until begin to glow a copper-red until at totality, 11:41 PM, Luna will hang colorfully in our star-sprinkled sky as totality begins — the time the Moon is fully within the darkest portion of Earth’s shadow, known as the umbra. Maximum eclipse is reached at 12:12 AM (Jan. 21) and totality ends at 12:43 AM.

As the eclipse ends, the process reverses until in the wee hours of Monday, the Full Moon will brightly shine again. Click here for more information from TimeAndDate.com.

NOTES: A telescope is not necessary for your enjoyment of this wondrous natural phenomenon, just go outside and look up! Binoculars or a small telescope may give a more detailed view but are not required. A lunar eclipse is completely safe to watch — it’s moonlight — so you need no special glasses or vision protection.

Looking out the window

Photo: Craters on the Moon's Terminator. An iPhone photo taken through a telescope at 600X. Converted to monochrome.  Photo Credit: Lowan Laws.
Craters on the Moon’s Terminator. An iPhone photo taken through a telescope at 600X. Converted to monochrome. Photo Credit: Lowan Laws.

CAA member Lowan Laws was using his eight-inch Meade Dobsonian telescope at our Letha House Park observing site one very clear night this July. Pointing his scope at the Moon, he marveled at how sharp the image was. He said the atmosphere was so clear and steady — the seeing extraordinary — that he kept increasing the magnification to see how far he could go. Finally, at 600X, he snapped this image using his Apple iPhone at the telescope eyepiece (afocal method). It’s almost like looking out the window of a spaceship in lunar orbit.

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

Want to see Wednesday’s total lunar eclipse? TV or online are best bet!

Photo: Umbral Shadow Crossing Moon by James Guilford
Umbral Shadow Crossing Moon by James Guilford

A total lunar eclipse will take place in the pre-dawn hours of January 31 but interested viewers in Northeastern Ohio are not well-favored! Weather conditions predicted for Wednesday morning are poor (mostly cloudy, at best) and the timing of the eclipse event itself works against us; at best we would see only a portion of the partial phase before our Moon sets!

Our best bet for watching this total lunar eclipse will be to view it on television or via streaming video. NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide live coverage of the celestial spectacle beginning at 5:30 a.m. EST. Weather permitting, the broadcast will feature views from the varying vantage points of telescopes at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California; Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles; and the University of Arizona’s Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter Observatory. You can access the live NASA broadcast via some cable television services, or online through NASA’s Moon webpages.

If skies do clear enough to see the Moon from our area, here’s a timetable for significant points in the upcoming eclipse as viewed from the city of Oberlin — the timing would be off only by a few seconds viewed from other areas of Northeastern Ohio.

Timetable of January 31, 2018 Total Lunar Eclipse. Credit: TimeAndDate.com
Timetable of January 31, 2018 Total Lunar Eclipse. Credit: TimeAndDate.com

This eclipse event is getting special attention because it offers the rare coincidence of three lunar events: A “supermoon,” a “blue moon” and a total lunar eclipse at the same time. A “supermoon” occurs when the Moon is closest to Earth in its orbit (at or near perigee) and appears about 14 percent brighter than usual. As the second Full Moon of the month, this Moon is also commonly called a Blue Moon, though it will not be blue in appearance. The “Super Blue Moon” will pass through Earth’s shadow and take on a reddish copper to deep-red tint. The eerie colors of totality seen during lunar eclipses frightened the ancients but delight us!

The last total lunar eclipse occurred Sept. 27-28, 2015. The next total lunar eclipse visible across North America will occur January 21, 2019.

The January 31 eclipse is the third in a series of supermoons in December 2017 and January 2018. Watch the Supermoon Trilogy video.

It’s Happening August 21: Edgewater Eclipse Watch

The Cuyahoga Astronomical Association (CAA), in cooperation with Cleveland Metroparks, will host an Eclipse Watch event at Edgewater Park, on Cleveland’s western Lake Erie shore, from 12:30 to 4:00 PM, Monday, August 21. The event will be free and open to the public, no reservations required, to observe the day’s solar eclipse. In case of rain, the event will be canceled.

Image: Eclipse at Maximum - Edgewater Park, Ohio, August 21, 2017 - SkySafari 5 Simulation
Eclipse at Maximum – Edgewater Park, Ohio, August 21, 2017 – SkySafari 5 Simulation

The Edgewater Eclipse Watch will include:

  • Telescopes equipped to safely view the eclipse, tended by CAA members
  • Eclipse viewing glasses provided by AstroZap, one per group, please!)
  • Non-profit organizations, including Cleveland Metroparks, with family activities.
  • Additional activities to be announced!

The venue for the Edgewater Eclipse Watch will be at the west end of Edgewater Park’s lower level parking lot (see map below). Telescopes and other activities will be in the grassy area adjacent to the parking lot. Visitors may come and go as they please during the event.

Image: Here is where the Eclipse Watch will take place.
Here is where the Eclipse Watch will take place. Click to visit Google Maps for a more complete map and directions.
Image: Timing of Our Partial Solar Eclipse, August 21, 2017 - Via SkySafari 5
Timing of Our Partial Solar Eclipse, August 21, 2017 – Via SkySafari 5

Millions of people will enjoy this eclipse of the Sun, some portion of which will be visible from everywhere in the continental United States; it’s even been dubbed “The Great American Eclipse” and “The National Eclipse.” Locations along a relatively narrow strip of land stretching from Oregon and the Pacific Northwest to the Atlantic off South Carolina will enjoy the full glory of a total solar eclipse. Here in Northeastern Ohio, we will see a deep partial eclipse with, at its peak, the Sun reduced to a brilliant crescent in our early afternoon sky.

CRITICAL: Vision safety is a major concern: It is important to note: even during the maximum point of our partial eclipse it is not safe to look at the Sun without proper vision protection. According to a statement from NASA, “The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as ‘eclipse glasses’ or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun.Here’s a quick video about how to safely view the eclipse via WKYC and our own Jay Reynolds.

A solar eclipse takes place when our Moon comes between Sun and Earth casting its shadow on Earth’s surface. The illustration below shows how the depth of Moon’s shadow varies depending upon how much of Sun is covered. The small black dot indicates the area where all of the solar disk is covered and where a total solar eclipse is in progress; outside of that dot, a large shaded area shows where various levels of partial coverage — the partial eclipse — is visible.

Image: Diagram of the Solar Eclipse - Image Credit: NASA
Diagram of the Solar Eclipse – Image Credit: NASA

This video from NASA shows how eclipses work and why they don’t happen every month. Spoiler: Moon’s shadow “misses” the Earth most of the time…