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!

Telescope Night

Photo: G.J. "Gus" Waffen points out features of his elegant Vixen Cassegrain telescope system. Photo by James Guilford.
G.J. “Gus” Waffen points out features of his elegant Vixen Cassegrain telescope system. Behind him is a vintage Thomas Cooke & Sons refractor Waffen once owned.

The June 12, 2017 meeting of the CAA featured, as its program, Telescope Night. Several members brought telescopes to the meeting and talked about their scopes’ history, qualities, and use. Equipment ranged from a large Thomas Cooke & Sons refractor built in the 1800s to a modern Vixen Cassegrain. The post-program social interlude allowed for plenty of close-up viewing of the telescopes and lively discussion. Telescope Night is an annual program taking place at the group’s June meeting.

June 12 Meeting: “Telescope Show and Tell”

Photo: Broadhurst, Clarkson & Company Refractor from England. Photo by James Guilford.
Broadhurst, Clarkson & Company Refractor from England

The monthly general meeting of the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association will take place June 12 at 7:30 PM, at the Cleveland Metroparks’ Rocky River Nature Center. The meeting will begin with the annual “Telescope Show and Tell. Several CAA members will bring telescopes of various types and explain the benefits of each. Sometimes the scopes are antique or unusual! The program will be ideal for beginners and those who might like to own a telescope but are not sure what type would best suit them. Questions from the audience will be taken and non-member visitors are welcome. The program is free and open to all interested.

The CAA’s monthly meetings take place at the Rocky River Nature Center; 24000 Valley Parkway; North Olmsted, Ohio, in the Cleveland Metroparks. Meetings begin with a brief business meeting followed by a refreshment and social break to discuss astronomical issues with other members; a business meeting follows.

May Public Night

Bob Wiersma talks telescopes and astronomy with a family at CAA’s Telescope Night
Many thanks to fellow club members who joined me to help with our public star party at Letha House Saturday night.  In spite of partly cloudy skies, we had a good turnout with about 30 guests joining us for the program–including 5 or 6 guests who brought their telescopes from home to get help in using their equipment.
Explaining the operation of a nice reflector kit received as a gift from man’s wife
CAA members who helped with the program included: Jay Reynolds, Rich & Nancy Whisler, Bill & Carol Lee, Tim Campbell, Bob Wiersma, Ray Love, Carl Kudrna, Suzie Dills, Gus Waffen, Dave Nuti, Nora Mishey, Dave Watkins, and Bruce Lane.
Sisters learn about their telescope and aim for the Moon.
Apologies for missing anyone.  If I missed you, thanks for your help and please let me know who you are!
Mother and son get a look at Jupiter courtesy of Jay Reynolds and the CAA’s big SCT.
Special thanks to Jay, who spent the evening showing guests the night sky in our observatory, and to Nora Mishey who greeted and talked with guests and managed our display of astronomical materials inside the Letha House shelter.
Nora Mishey set up a fine and impressive display in the Letha House Park meeting room that most missed – the wonders of the sky were too alluring!
This big telescope provided views of Jupiter and moon Io casting its shadow on an equatorial cloud belt; Io’s changing position was observed over the course of the evening.
Simulated view shows Io casting its shadow on planet Jupiter – seen via larger scopes at the star party! – Simulation by Gas Giants iOS app.
Thanks again, folks!  See you June 3 for our next public star party for the Medina County Park District!  — William Murmann, CAA President