This is the Classical Astronomy Update, an email newsletter especially
for Christian homeschool
families (though everyone is welcome!)
Please feel free to share this with any interested friends.
He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the
needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor. They shall fear
thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout
all generations. - Psalm 72:4-5
IN THIS UPDATE
Eclipse Mailbag Roundup
I had an interesting experience recently. Over Memorial Day, I took a 130 mile round trip cycling adventure down the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail from Akron, Ohio to Goshen, Ohio. It was quite an physical undertaking in celebration of my recent 60th birthday. I've reached the age of "use it or lose it" and I encourage everyone to take up cycling for health and enjoyment. Check out my recent blog post if you're interested in the story with photos. Lots of Ohio history in that post. Sign up for your own blog at HomeschoolBlogger.com and send me a friend request.
We're still active over at the Classical Astronomy group at MeWe, though nowhere near as much as our old Zuckbook page. Still, it's nice to be free of the datamining and hypnotic algorithms of legacy social media.
I'm planning to host another webinar sometime in late June or early July. If you have not already done so, please use our online contact form if you would like to be notified about future webinars. If you have already signed up, please do not send a duplicate request, unless you want to receive duplicate notifications!
The upcoming webinar will include a tour of the summer constellations along with a demonstration of using the free Stellarium planetarium software. Stellarium is recommended for cloudy day use with our Signs & Seasons
curriculum workbook projects. But it's a generally useful program for learning the sky. And the best part is, like observing the sky itself, it's FREE! Lots of webinar slots are available.
For more information about topics from Classical Astronomy
discussed in this newsletter, please check out
a homeschool astronomy curriculum
(but popular with adult readers too!)
Visit our archive of previous editions of the Classical Astronomy Update newsletters, going back to 2007.
Eclipse Mailbag Roundup
After eclipses, I usually share the pix sent it by the readers. We only got a couple pix of the lunar eclipse of May 26. The first pic was sent by Fern, a longtime reader. Fern writes:
I asked God to wake me for part... I woke at 2:20, the moon only had about a 1/3 cleanly cut part out of it so I missed the red part but a friend sent me this photo. My phone couldn’t capture the image, moon was too bright, just lept showing up as blurry circle. I did get to see Ursa Major off to west y also Jupiter y Saturn off to east! The heavens declare the glory of God!
The second lunar eclipse pic was sent by Richard in New Zealand, a longitude that would was favored for this eclipse:
A couple readers in the heartland tried to observe selenion, when the eclipsed Moon and the Sun are paradoxically both above the horizon at the same time. However, these attempts were not successful. Jenny Jo wrote on MeWe:
Thank you very much for the newsletter. I was able to convince 2 family members to get up with me in the hopes of observing the selenion here in Nebraska. Unfortunately, the moon completely disappeared once it was fully eclipsed. 😞 Here is our
last photo of the nearly-eclipsed moon. Even so, I learned a lot, and I appreciate your enthusiasm and generosity.
Jenny Jo posted this pic on MeWe where you can spot a sliver of a crescent of the partially eclipsed Moon in the Earth's shadow:
Hope others were not too disappointed and I'm sorry for anyone who tried and did not succeed. Though we were clouded out in Cleveland and I missed this past lunar eclipse, all reports indicated that the eclipsed Moon was very dark, indicating a lot of obscuring dust in the atmosphere that would have absorbed the Earth's orange-red sunset glow cast upon the Moon. So even if the eclipsed Moon were above the
horizon at sunrise, it would have not been bright enough to stand out amidst the bright blue of daylight. It never occurred to me to warn about that. Sorry about that! But this is normal for astronomy -- you win some and you lose some.
For years, Stan from Nebraska shared his excellent astrophotgraphs of lunar eclipses. Don't recall hearing from Stan for a long time. If you're still out there, Stan, hope you're doing well!
We had much better success in Cleveland observing the sunrise partial solar eclipse this past Thursday, June 10. We had a nice group of a couple dozen friends, family members, and passersby who were on hand at the Solstice Steps in Lakewood Park, along the shore of Lake Erie. Though there was a lot of cloud hugging the horizon, we were providentially blessed with a hole in the clouds large enough to observe the
red-orange Sun rising in a state of partial eclipse. Here's the view that my daughter Flo captured with her phone:
The Sun rose higher into the clouds and we only saw fleeting glimpses of clarity through long stretches of obscuration. Here's a couple more pix taken by Flo, including the distant skyline of Cleveland, Ohio:
My friend David was with us at Lakewood Park and he snapped some very nice pix of the sunrise eclipse. In the first pic, note how you can see the crescent of the eclipsed Sun reflected on the water.
My friend Barb was also at Lakewood Park and she snapped these pix, which she indicates were snapped at 6:07 AM, 6:12 AM, and 6:13 AM:
In the pic above, note how you can see the crescent of the eclipsed Sun reflected on the water.
We didn't receive any pix from any readers in other locations. But if we had, it would have been apparent that the crescent of the eclipsed Sun would have had a different shape, and would have been a deeper "bite" with closer proximity to the path of annularity in Canada, and would have been a shallower "bite" as seen from locations further away from the path.
All things considered, we had a pretty good view from Cleveland. We had had intermittent rain all that week and the forecast for Eclipse Day was not favorable. But thankfully, the LORD was gracious. The sky was clear at 11:00 PM the night before, and the skies remained clear until about noon, well after the eclipse ended. So I was not of a mind to complain!
I was especially grateful for the kids who had the chance to view this eclipse. I've seen this sort of thing over the years but you never know how such a natural phenomenon can inspire a young life and perhaps give them the direction and motivation to pursue a career in science.
As a matter of fact, I had seen a sunset eclipse over Lake Erie on this same date in 2002. There are many fascinating cycles within the Moon's motion and one of them is the Metonic Cycle, in which the same phases of the Moon repeat on the same dates of the solar calendar every 19 years. So after seeing that sunset eclipse on June 10, 2002, I was fortunate to also see the next instance of the Metonic
Cycle on June 10, 2021. However, this last eclipse represents the end of that particular Metonic series, after eclipses in 1964 and 1983.
The Metonic Cycle was known to the Ancient Greeks, perhaps earlier, and is named after the Greek astronomer Meton (circa 400 B.C.). The Metonic Cycle is also the basis of the modern Hebrew calendar so that Passover and other Jewish holidays occur on the same dates every 19 years.
It's not too early to start thinking about the BIG total solar eclipse that will pass over the USA on Monday, April 8, 2024! This is now only less than three years away! This will be huge news as the time approaches. But the media will not report it until the time gets close, so you won't have enough time to make plans.
Cleveland is on the path and we'll have an impressive 3 minutes and 45 seconds of totality starting at 3:13 PM. We're planning on throwing a big eclipse party so why not plan on spending Eclipse Day 2024 in Cleveland? Details to follow as they become available.
Til next time, God bless and clear skies,
The Ryan Family
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and
the stars, which thou hast ordained, what is man that thou art
mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
- Psalm 8:3-4, a Psalm of David