Meanwhile, closer to Earth …

Studt_Crescent Moon
Our Moon. Day 27 of the Lunar cycle – 10% illumination. Photo by Alan Studt.

The eyes of stargazers have largely been focused on comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) of late but there are other dazzling sights the cosmos offers; among them is Earth’s Moon.

CAA member Alan Studt has been pursuing a project to photograph — as possible — Moon every day through its cycle of phases. He has captured most phases thus far. At the time of this writing, Luna was in her waning crescent phase with the sliver of lighted disk growing slimmer by the day. The crescent phases offer dramatic views of Moon due to low-angle sunlight casting longer shadows from lunar surface features.

Above is our Moon seen the morning of July 17, 2020, day 27 of the Lunar cycle – 10% illumination – 394,051.09 km away. Studt’s technicals: Four shots stitched, Nikon D850, 4400mm, f/20, ISO 2000, 1/80th sec.

Below is Moon accompanied by planet Venus, accentuated by sunrise-tinted thin clouds. Settings: Nikon D850, 350mm, F/5.6, ISO 250, 1/100th sec.

Studt Crescent Moon & Venus
The 27-day-old Moon and planet Venus float in sunrise-tinted clouds. Photo by Alan Studt.

Venus transits the Pleiades

Once every eight years, as dictated by orbital mechanics, planet Venus crosses the Pleiades star cluster. The star cluster is one of those nearest Earth and easy to spot: to the right and running ahead of the great Orion constellation. It’s an open cluster consisting of about 1,000 gravitationally-bound stars though only a few of them are visible to the unaided eye. Longer camera exposures reveal more and more stars in the group. The before, during, and after-transit conjunction positions of Venus and the Pleiades make for a lovely sight by eye, telescope, and a favorite target for astrophotographers. Shown below are some of the images CAA members have made of the April 2020 Venus/Pleiades combinations.

Wide view of the transit: Canon EOS Rebel T5i – 250mm lens, ISO 800 F5.6, 8 seconds. by Jon Salontay
Alan Studt: Nikon D850, Sigma 600mm, f6.3, ISO 28000, 1/10th second, 110 shots, 25 darks stacked in DSS. Added a bit of glow in Photoshop.
Venus Glows! by John D. Burkett
Pre-transit Conjunction. Via 400mm telephoto lens. April 2, 2020. by James Guilford.
Venus and Three Sisters. View of the Venus transit through a telescope. “I wish I could have zoomed out!” says Photographer James Guilford.
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Transit in the Trees. by Jon Salontay. Canon EOS Rebel T5i, 55mm lens, ISO 800, F/4, 8 seconds.
Venus visits the Pleiades. by Lonnie Dittrick
Glorious Pleiades. Canon and 70-200mm lens piggybacked telescope, 30-second images for about an hour, combined. by Dave Watkins.

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

“Beautiful” fireball seen, recorded

Photo: June 11, 2016 Meteor Track - Credit: NASA
June 11, 2016 – 10:17 PM EDT Fireball meteor captured by NASA’s All-Sky Fireball Network located at Hiram College. Credit: NASA

Kim Doran emailed us on June 12 asking if anyone had seen what she witnessed the night before: a brilliant, multi-colored fireball meteor. Fireballs are meteors that flare to become brighter than the planet Venus.

We don’t know if other human observers saw the meteor’s brilliant fall but NASA’s automated cameras on the campuses of Hiram College and Oberlin College recorded the June 11 event at 10:17 PM EDT.

“(I) saw what I thought was a very large shooting star … then brighter flash and very thick trail with quick red, bright white, and some blue.” She said she is 57 years of age and has never seen anything quite like this before. “Beautiful!”