Tag Archives: Marcellus Free Library

The August 21st Solar Eclipse From Central/Upstate NY – Scheduled Lectures And Observing

Greetings, fellow astrophiles!

The time is finally approaching – but, before the anxiously-awaited total solar eclipse over New York on April 8th of 2024 (this is true!), we’ve another solar eclipse that will include partial coverage of the Sun by the Moon from our location this coming August 21st afternoon (plan to make yourself available from roughly 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.).

In preparation for the eclipse, CNYO will be hosting a number of lectures in the area and, for the actual observing session of the eclipse, CNYO members will be at a number of local libraries with solar-safe observing equipment. Additional sessions will be added to this page as events get scheduled.

Scheduled Lectures (Same Presentation, Different Locations):

NOPL North Syracuse, August 14th, 6:30 p.m.

* 100 Trolley Barn Ln, North Syracuse, NY 13212, nopl.org, (315) 458-6184
* Event listing on meetup and facebook

Cazenovia Public Library, August 16th, 7:00 p.m.

* 100 Albany St, Cazenovia, NY 13035, cazenoviapubliclibrary.org, (315) 655-9322
* Event listing on meetup and facebook

Jamesville Public Library, August 21st, 12:00 p.m.

* 5110 Jamesville Road, Jamesville, NY 13078, (315) 446-3578 (DeWitt Branch)
* Event listing on meetup and facebook
* The Jamesville Library lecture will combine several events into one – a noon lecture, followed by the afternoon observing the the eclipse, all as part of the opening of this brand-new library on Jamesville Rd.

Observing Sessions, August 21st (1 to 4 p.m.) (Same Eclipse, Different Locations):

Liverpool Public Library – Observing with Christopher Schuck

* 310 Tulip St, Liverpool, NY 13088, www.lpl.org, (315) 457-0310
* Event listing at library, meetup and facebook

Marcellus Free Library – Observing with Bob Piekiel

* 32 Maple St, Marcellus, NY 13108, mflib.org, (315) 673-3221
* Event listing at library, meetup and facebook

Jamesville Public Library – Observing with Damian Allis

* 5110 Jamesville Road, Jamesville, NY 13078, (315) 446-3578 (DeWitt Branch)
* Event listing on meetup and facebook

If you have solar-safe observing equipment and would like to include your setup at one of these sessions, or if you plan on hosting an eclipse event in the CNY area and would like to be added to the lecture or observing list, please contact Damian at info@cnyo.org.

CNYO Observing Log: Perseid Week @ Marcellus Library, Baltimore Woods, Beaver Lake, and Green Lakes, 11 – 14 August 2015

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

2015aug25_two-moons-hoaxThis was, far and away, the busiest and best-attended Perseid Meteor Shower week in my history as a CNY-residing amateur astronomer, ranking third overall in public interest behind a Darling Hill Observatory session for the closest approach of Mars in 2003 (the origin of that completely useless meme about Mars and the Moon appearing the same size this (and nearly every one since 2003) August) and the Transit of Venus event held along the Armory Square Creekwalk back in 2012. I would argue that a large part of this local interest (as pertaining to CNYO events, anyway) was due to the efforts of Glenn Coin at syracuse.com in keeping science (and, specifically, space science) in the local paper/websites. His articles following the days approaching, as well as the instigation of we locals to take another shot or two at seeing anything on alternatively partly-cloudy nights, can be found at the links below:

* 6 Aug – Catch the Perseid meteor shower at Baltimore Woods viewing party (by Emily Nichols)

* 10 Aug – Perseid meteor shower: What’s the best night to see it in CNY?

* 12 Aug – ‘Amazing’ Perseid meteor shower: When, where and how to see it in Central NY

* 12 Aug – Perseid meteor shower update: CNY skies should be mostly clear for peak

* 13 Aug – Miss the Perseid meteor shower last night? Try tonight

* 13 Aug – Perseid meteor shower: Watch video of amazing display above the Finger Lakes (by Lauren Long)

Our continued thanks to Glenn Coin and syracuse.com for covering the big yearly astronomy events!

Solar Observing Session At Marcellus Free Library, August 11th

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sunspots_1024_20150811Our Perseid week actually started in the daytime, with a Solar Observing Session run by Bob Piekiel as part of a How-To Festival at Marcellus Free Library on Tuesday, August 11. Like the Sun itself, the Sun’s importance in irradiating comets as they pass into the inner Solar System and melt enough to leave the trails of cosmic debris that become our yearly meteor showers cannot go unnoticed. This session featured Bob’s Coronado 90 mm H-alpha scope, a small Baader’ed refracting scope, and Christopher Schuck’s Coronado PST. Over the course of about 90 minutes (from the session start to the Sun slipping behind the high tree line), we had about 25 people cycle past the scopes to observe numerous medium-sized prominences and a reasonably clear Sunspot 2396 (click the image at right for a larger view from NASA/SOHO).

Besides the continuous dialog about all things solar, more than a few attempts to capture images through the scopes were had. While smartphones are not the ideal gear for accomplishing this (due to both the difficulty in proper placement and the relative sensitivity of the sensors to monochromatic light (in our cases, the dark red H-alpha band)), Chris did manage a pic that included multiple prominences, one power line, and the ever-constraining tree line (below).

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Smartphone Coronado PST pic by Christopher Schuck. Click for a larger view.

A Three-For: Baltimore Woods (Aug. 12th), Beaver Lake (Aug. 13th), and Green Lakes (Aug. 14th)

Bob and I handled scope and lecture duties for the three peak Perseid nights, hitting well-separated locations and a few overlapping attendees. As all three sessions were nearly identical in their content and observing targets, I’ll briefly summarize the unique aspects of each event before giving the combined (and nearly identical) observing lists.

Baltimore Woods (August 12th)

With the best time for the Perseids predicted to be between the late evening of the 12th and 13th, Baltimore Woods Nature Center was predictable busy. Attendees began to arrive around 8 p.m., with total attendance maxing out at about 65 people (and the parking lot itself maxing out before that). With an introductory lecture and white light warning provided, the entire 8:30 to near-11:00 p.m. session only included three shooting stars. Two were moderately bright (and fleeting). A third, the best of all three days, hit atmosphere above a large set of clouds, yet was bright enough to light the clouds like a green-twinged lightning bolt.

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Bob Piekiel and the calm before the storm.

The evening itself turned out mostly cloudy, providing just enough open pockets of dark sky for views of Saturn, a few Messiers, some Constellation touring, one ISS pass, and the three observed meteors that graced the skies that night. Cloud cover became all-consuming just after 10:30 p.m. and we packed up and were gone by 11:00 p.m.

In the interest of trying to catch at least one Perseid by photo, I trekked out to Cazenovia Lake around 4:00 a.m. in 30 minutes of trying, I managed only a single shooter (in the image below, it looks like a white arrow (at bottom) pointing to some dim objects).

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A sharp streak of a Perseid in an otherwise poorly-balanced image. Click for a larger view.

Beaver Lake Nature Center (August 13th)

CNYO’s official seasonal Beaver Lake Nature Center session was greatly simplified by having the Baltimore Woods session the night before (meaning Bob and I could attend both sessions with no overlap). With the session moved from the Beaver Lake rotunda to the overflow parking, we found ourselves in a darker, lower tree-lined, and easy to arrange location (meaning we may request that all future sessions be held in the same spot!). Beaver Lake skies were not much clearer than Baltimore Woods, but the waits between observables was shorter and our ability to cycle through objects and attendees was improved. With additional announcements on syracuse.com, the final Beaver Lake count was five meteors and about 75 people from our 8:30 introductions to 11:00 p.m. pack-up.

Green Lakes State Park (August 14th)

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Upcoming festivities announced during our session.

Our Green Lakes State Park session in July peaked near 120 people (some for the stars, some for the s’mores), which is quite a crowd for 3 scopes! Despite the predictions of clearer skies than previous days and generally excellent evening weather, the August session capped itself at about 70 people (with a bunch of them being young amateur astronomers who packed it in early, leaving a smaller group of about 15 to stay until our 11:00 p.m. Ending to pick off several Messiers after Saturn slid behind Green Lakes’ high southern tree line. Going solely by “ooh-and-aah” statistics, Green Lakes attendees may have seen a total of 5 Perseids (none rivaling the one from Baltimore Woods, but easily seen in the mostly clear skies above).

Observing List (More Of The Summer Same, And For Good Reason)

As has been discussed many times on this website, the importance of introducing new observers to easily observed and described objects cannot be understated. The hunt for dim NGCs and equally dim Messiers is always worthwhile with sufficient time and clear skies, but the brand new observer (arguably) benefits more from prominent views of objects such as the Moon, M13 in Hercules, Alcor and Mizar, M57 (the Ring Nebula) in Lyra, The Andromeda Galaxy (M31), and the bright visible planets each evening. These objects are easily seen by anyone approaching the eyepiece and can be used to give new observers a kind of “upper limit” on their expectations of what a scope is capable of magnifying from ground level. Amateur astronomy, like chess, can become a lifelong training in subtlety. That said, the mechanics are easy to learn by slowly introducing the many kinds of players.

With two scopes and +60 attendees at each session, we were definitely limited in our observing variety simply by the lengths of the lines behind each scope. That said, we were able to give all of the patient attendees some great views of the night’s best for each Perseid session. The short list of objects is below (listed according to the order in which they’re observable as the skies get darker and darker):

* Saturn (our bright planet for the Summer and Fall)
* Alcor and Mizar in Ursa Major, Albireo in Cygnus, Herschel’s Garnet Star in Cepheus
* M13 (globular cluster) in Hercules, M57 (The Ring Nebula) in Lyra
* M27 (The Dumbbell Nebula) in Velpecula
* M31 (The Andromeda Galaxy) and M32 (one of its two satellite galaxies) in Andromeda
* M51 (The Whirlpool Galaxy) in Canes Venatici

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M13, M57, and M27. Photos by Bob Piekiel. Click for a larger view.

In closing, we had an excellent week-long turnout for the sessions and are grateful to everyone who came out to make this a busy Perseid show. We hope all of the new faces on our meetup and Facebook pages keep track of upcoming events – and we hope to see your dark, featureless outlines at another 2015 session!

The Solar Observing Session At Marcellus Free Library Is ON Today, August 11th, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.

Greetings, fellow astrophiles!

The cloud cover in CNY is currently “ish,” with enough open pockets and thin edges to make solar observing possible, if not reasonable (hence the late call on the official session announcement). The Marcellus Library How-To Fair will last from 6 to 8 p.m., but the treeline will likely end the solar session by 7:30.

And I’ve been told the library is providing free ice cream. Bring your Perseid questions!

This is also a busy week for CNYO. Check out our additional sessions this week on our official August announcement.

Marcellus Free Library is hosting a How-To Fair this evening. Like the same session we ran a solar session at for Liverpool Public Library, this event will host several local organizations showing how to do any of a number of activities. To this session, Bob Piekiel will be hosting a Solar Viewing Session (weather-permitting). I’ve still several pairs of solar glasses available from our International SUNDay attempt that I’ll be giving away to attendees.