July 29: A great night for stargazers

Photo: Astronomers with their telescopes. Photo by Alan Studt.
Under Starry Skies – Photo by Alan Studt

by William Murmann, CAA President

We had one of our most successful public star parties for the Medina County Park District last night (July 29) at Letha House. I don’t have an exact count, but I think 100 or more guests came for the event under great clear skies and mild temperatures. The parking lot was full. Lots of young families came with children, many of whom got their first look at the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, and other objects through a telescope.

Photo: Waxing Crescent Moon, July 29, 2017. Photo by James Guilford.
Waxing Crescent Moon dominated the sky for the CAA’s Public Night. Photo by James Guilford.

Many thanks to all who helped! Observatory Director Jay Reynolds had a busy night showing the night sky with our 12-inch and 8-inch scopes. Education Director Nora Mishey spent the whole evening in the building, talking with folks about her educational astronomy displays, sharing home-baked cookies, and discussing our club. Three platters of Nora’s cookies quickly disappeared.

Photo: Woman using telescope in red-lit observatory under starry sky.
“First-light” observing with the just-completed eight-inch Meade. Photo by Alan Studt

 

 

 

 

We had 14 scopes at the event. Two of them were brought by nonmembers who hopefully will join our club. I was busy during the evening talking with people and showing the Moon with my scope, so I may not have a complete list of members who helped. If I missed anyone, please let me know.

Photo: Group pauses to watch a passage of the International Space Station. Photo by James Guilford.
Watching the Space Station. Photo by James Guilford.

A big thank you for helping to VP Tim Campbell, Bob Wiersma, James Guilford, Alan Studt, Rich & Nancy Whisler, Bill & Carol Lee, Carl Kudrna, Dave Nuti, Chris Christie, Bruce Lane, Jay Reynolds, Nora Mishey, and me. If you were there and I missed you, please let me know.

Thanks again everyone!

Too cloudy to see the total lunar eclipse? Try a webcast!

If local conditions don’t allow viewing tonight’s total lunar eclipse or if you just can’t get out, try one of the several live webcasts. Seeing the eclipse would be much better “in person,” but watching via computer or TV is better than nothing!

NASA TV — both a webcast and a cable TV service, the space agency’s coverage begins at 8:00 EDT through 11:30 PM. See it: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-msfc or directly from Griffith Observatory at: http://livestream.com/GriffithObservatoryTV

Slooh, the remote telescope company, offers their own 9:00 PM webcast at: http://live.slooh.com/?utm_campaign=space&utm_medium=textlink&utm_source=launch which will also be carried by Space.com at: http://www.space.com/19195-night-sky-planets-asteroids-webcasts.html

The venerable “Sky & Telescope” magazine hosts a program beginning at 9:00 here: http://livestream.com/SkyandTelescope/Sept27eclipse

And the University of Arizona will stream their coverage live at: http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/css/eclipse/

Coming September 27: a marvelous total lunar eclipse

Photo: Total Lunar Eclipse Sequence, February 2008
Total Lunar Eclipse Sequence, February 2008

On the night of September 27, 2015 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 and in “prime time” — a marvelous and relatively rare situation!

As the partial phase of the eclipse begins, at 9:07 PM, viewers will see the Full Moon gradually covered by the dark portion of Earth’s shadow. As the Moon moves deeper into shadow it will begin to glow a copper-red until at totality, 10:11 PM, Luna will hang colorfully in our star-sprinkled sky. As the eclipse ends, the process reverses until in the wee hours of Monday, the Full Moon will brightly shine again. Click here for a detailed, somewhat technical chart.

Though they are useful, eclipse watchers don’t need telescopes to enjoy the transition and wonder of a total lunar eclipse; if you can see the Moon, you can see the eclipse, and it’s perfectly safe to watch … it’s only moonlight, after all! Click here for a very good article by our friends at Sky & Telescope Magazine on how to watch a lunar eclipse.

Don’t be confused by Universal Time (UT) timings which will also say the eclipse takes place September 28! This chart (below) provides events and timings for Sunday night’s, September 27 eclipse correct for Eastern Daylight Time.

Table: Local Event Timings for Total Lunar Eclipse of September 27, 2015
Local Event Timings for Total Lunar Eclipse of September 27, 2015
Sadly, the CAA will not be hosting a public eclipse watch event. CAA’s plans for a public Lunar Eclipse event were disrupted due to fees imposed at our intended venue.

BTW… we don’t use the weird “blood moon” moniker for total lunar eclipses; those natural events are far too wonderful and beautiful for us to use terms meant to elicit primal fear!

 

Saturday, September 19: International Observe the Moon Night

Photo: Moon Just Before First Quarter
Moon Just Before First Quarter

The Cuyahoga Astronomical Association (CAA) will host a public observing night at their Letha House Park observatory Saturday night, September 19, from 8:00 to 10:00. For location and observatory information, click here!

Come see the moon (and other objects) via members’ telescopes. The observatory will also be open for public viewing, and members will be available to answer your questions. No registration or fees, just show up and enjoy the night sky!

The event will feature Earth’s Moon but planets and deep space objects will also be observed, weather conditions permitting. The night’s event will serve as a local venue of International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN). The InOMN is an annual, world-wide public engagement program that encourages observation, appreciation, and understanding of Earth’s Moon.

Everyone on Earth is invited to join the celebration by attending an InOMN event — and uniting on one day each year to look at and learn about the Moon together.