Star Gazer August 2018

Star Gazer August 2018

Schoonover Observatory 670 N. Jefferson Street, Lima, Ohio 45801

Mailing Address: Lima Astronomical Society, Box 201, Lima, OH 45802

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The Star Gazer is written by Sherry Cottle Graham. Please forward comments, suggestions, or to unsubscribe/subscribe to this newsletter to

August 3, 2018 General Meeting starts at 8:00 P.M. at the Schoonover Observatory


August 3 – David Humphreys will be presenting information on a current constellation that he chooses.

Upcoming Events:

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2018 Lima Astronomical Society Board from left to right: Randy Wapperom (Treasurer), Sherry Cottle Graham (Secretary & Star Gazer Editor), Eugene McCall (Board Chairman), David Humphreys (President), Mark Casazza (Member at Large), and Michael Ritchie (Vice President).

You are Invited to attend:

Perseids Meteor Shower Observation and Star Gazing Event

Kendrick Woods Spencerville Ohio

August 12, 2018

Rain Date: August 13th, 2018

9:00 P.M. to ??

Bring a comfortable chair, bug spray, a snack, and dress in long pants and sleeves.

Three (3) telescopes will be provided.

Allen County Fair Booth

Merchant Building

10 A.M.  to 11 P.M.

Saturday August 18

Sunday August 19th

Friday August 24th

Saturday August 25th

The Allen County Fair is starting this month and we are hosting a booth in the Merchant Building. Please join us at this fun event and help us meet with members of our community.

Contact David Humphreys ( or Michael Ritchie ( to sign up for this event.

Under the Dome

Blood Moon and Mars Dazzles the Night Sky

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On Friday night, July 27th, the visitors at the Lima Schoonover Observatory were greeted by a rising full orange- red moon with a twinkling golden orange planet in the eastern sky. In some parts of the world this full moon, called the “Blood Moon” which is labeled the longest lasting eclipse in the 21st Century. But, here in Lima, we were blessed with a beautiful sky that brilliantly framed this spectacular heavenly occurrence. We could not see the eclipse from our vantage point.

There were approximately sixty visitors who attended this open house. To improve our outreach to our guests, David Humphreys, Michael Ritchie, and Doug Wire each manned a telescope for our visitors to see various planets that were in the night sky. However, many were hoping to see Mars which was the closest to the Earth that it can get on its elliptical orbit and it had an active dust storm going on.  As we stood on the upper deck, we could hear people say, “Wow, look at that. Isn’t it beautiful.”

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A group of students from Miller City visited the observatory on this night. Their science teacher would grant them extra credit if they brought her a signed brochure from us. It was exciting to watch their reactions as the sky cleared and this astronomical event unfolded. They were happy that they had taken the time to experience this event.

It was a perfect night for star gazing and everyone left enjoying their time spent at the observatory.

Doug Wire aligns the dome’s telescope up with Venus.

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Michael Ritchie is assembling his telescope on the upper deck.

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Doug Wire prepares to greet LAS guests in the dome.

Astronomical Calendar for 2018 June

Date     GMT Event


  • August 11 – New Moon. The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 09:58 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
  • August 11 – Partial Solar Eclipse. A partial solar eclipse occurs when the Moon covers only a part of the Sun, sometimes resembling a bite taken out of a cookie. A partial solar eclipse can only be safely observed with a special solar filter or by looking at the Sun’s reflection. The partial eclipse will be visible in parts of northeast Canada, Greenland, extreme northern Europe, and northern and eastern Asia. It will be best seen in northern Russia with 68% coverage. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)
  • August 12, 13 – Perseids Meteor Shower. The Perseids is one of the best meteor showers to observe, producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by comet Swift-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1862. The Perseids are famous for producing a large number of bright meteors. The shower runs annually from July 17 to August 24. It peaks this year on the night of August 12 and the morning of August 13. The thin crescent moon will set early in the evening leaving dark skies for what should be an excellent show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Perseus, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
  • August 17 – Venus at Greatest Eastern Elongation. The planet Venus reaches greatest eastern elongation of 45.9 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Venus since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the evening sky. Look for the bright planet in the western sky after sunset.
  • August 26 – Full Moon. The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 11:57 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Sturgeon Moon because the large sturgeon fish of the Great Lakes and other major lakes were more easily caught at this time of year. This moon has also been known as the Green Corn Moon and the Grain Moon.
  • August 26 – Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation. The planet Mercury reaches greatest western elongation of 18.3 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the planet low in the eastern sky just before sunrise.

Scheduled Events


  • General Meetings for 2018 are on the first Friday of each month starting at 8:00 P.M.  
    • June 1 September 7 December 7
    • July 6 October 5
    • August 3 November 2
  • Perseids Meteor Shower, August 12-13, 2018 starting at dusk, at Kendrick Woods.
  • Allen County Fair Booth: August 18 & 19th and 24 & 25th
  • Astronomy Days #2, October 13, 2018, from Noon to Evening, at Lima Schoonover Observatory.
  • International Observe the Moon, October 20, 2018, starting at 6 P.M. at Kendrick Woods.
  • Lima Schoonover Summer Schedule: Every Friday night at 9:00 P.M. (June 1st through September 7, 2018)


  • January 20, 2019, there will be the ‘Great American’ lunar eclipse, visible in 50 states
  • 50th Anniversary of the Apollo Lunar Landing, May 4th, 2019 at the Neil Armstrong Airport.
  • Night Out at the Neil Armstrong Museum, May 19th, 2019.

In the News

What Can Lunar Eclipses Do For Science?

By: Graham Jones | July 13, 2018

Link to this article


On the night of July 27, 2018, the longest total lunar eclipse for the next 105 years will be visible across parts of Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Six months later, on January 20, 2019, there will be the ‘Great American’ lunar eclipse, where totality is visible across all 50 states.

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft has been studying the Moon’s surface since 2009.
NASA Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio

The Moon’s journey through the Earth’s shadow produces one of the most dramatic and awe-inspiring sights in Nature. But can it help us deepen our understanding of Nature?

Dr. Noah Petro is the Project Scientist for NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission, which has been orbiting the Moon since June 2009. We talked to him about what lunar eclipses can do for science — and why we should study the Moon at all.

S&T: Firstly, a quick bit of background. Is it true that you had a ‘light-bulb moment’ at college that took you from studying geology to studying planetary geology?

NP: Yes, it was pretty much that. My Dad was involved in the Apollo program, so I was always interested in space exploration and the Moon. Then, going into high school, I had some amazing Earth Science teachers who got me excited about geology. It was a professor at my undergraduate institution, Bates College, who said, “Noah, you like space and you like geology. Did you know you could do the geology of things in space?” I thought, oh really? And that was that.

S&T: It’s now 20 years later, and you’re based at the Goddard Space Flight Center working on the LRO mission. What have been the most important results from the mission?

NP: That’s a hard question to answer because we’re learning so much. LRO has been at the Moon for almost nine years now, and no mission has ever operated at the Moon as long as that before. We’re constantly rewriting our understanding of how the Moon works and changes. LRO has made measurements to constrain the rate at which new impacts are forming on the surface of the Moon. We can map volatiles on the lunar surface, including water. We can look at the Moon with a high resolution camera and see features that we’ve never seen before. We’ve identified volcanic deposits that appear to be very young: tens of millions of years old as opposed to billions of years old. LRO has ushered in a new era of lunar science.

From our gallery: The lunar eclipse on January 31, 2018
Bill McGrath

S&T: During a lunar eclipse, the surface of the Moon goes from bright sunlight to darkness and back again in just a few hours. How can scientists use this to learn more about the Moon?

NP: We can use a thermal instrument to see how the temperature of the surface of the Moon changes. Anyone who’s been to a beach knows that sand is really hot on a hot day, and, as it cools, it cools quickly. So we can infer the properties of the regolith of the Moon — the surface of the Moon — based on how quickly or slowly it cools.

S&T: This is done with instruments on board LRO, plus telescopes on the Earth…?

NP: In the most recent total eclipse we didn’t use the on-board instruments because the spacecraft is older, and we were worried about what would happen to the battery. We recharge the battery using solar power, and when we’re in eclipse we’re in darkness for an extended period of time. So, we didn’t want to just leave instruments on and drain the battery. What we do instead now is that we make observations during partial eclipses, when the spacecraft is in darkness for a shorter period of time. We can still make Earth-based measurements if it’s clear wherever the telescope is.

S&T: How do you choose which areas of the Moon to study during an eclipse?

NP: That’s a good question. With the observations from LRO we basically look at what’s going to be beneath the spacecraft during a particular orbit during an eclipse. For the telescopic observations we don’t have the same limitations, so we can point wherever we want. We know the interesting features on the Moon, whether it’s a particular volcanic feature, or a small fresh impact crater. There are enough intermediate-size new impact craters that we can see from the Earth that make worthwhile targets. And, ultimately, we can look at this feature, and then we’ll look over here. We can move around compelling areas as the eclipse unfolds. The great thing about lunar eclipses is that they’re nice slow walks. There’s nothing you have to move around very quickly.

S&T: Why is it important to learn more about the surface of the Moon?

NP: Let’s take three steps back. Imagine if a new continent appeared on the Earth that revealed the earliest processes that occurred in the solar system. We would absolutely want to know everything about that place. Well, that happens to be the Moon. It’s three days away — it took Apollo astronauts three days to get to the Moon — and it’s about the size of Africa in terms of land area. And the Moon itself records the processes that have affected the entire solar system: impact craters, volcanism, tectonism, interactions with the space environment, they’re all recorded on the lunar surface. Every continent here on the Earth, some features on that continent tell us something about how the Earth works. The Moon is fabulous because it tells us something about how planets work.

So right here in our backyard we’ve got a representation of the full spectrum of types of objects in our solar system, apart from gas giants. We’ve got the Earth, with water and an atmosphere, and we have the Moon, with essentially no atmosphere and no water — there’s water on the Moon, but no rivers and oceans and things like that. And so where the record on the Earth doesn’t exist, we use the Moon to understand what happens on other objects.

S&T: Any final thoughts for S&T readers ahead of the forthcoming eclipses?

Composite image of Lunar Eclipse phases from our gallery

NP: We can never underestimate the importance of pointing out to people why looking at the sky is amazing. Whether it’s during an eclipse when the Moon turns red, or on a beautiful clear night when the Moon just looks the way the Moon always looks, use any opportunity we have to get people looking at the Moon, curious about the Moon, excited about it.

I should also point out — because I know the folks here at Goddard would want me to! — that in October we have our International Observe the Moon Night. And, of course, we have all the Apollo anniversaries starting this year. So it’s a great couple of years for the Moon coming up.

Link  to a video of this event. ( 4 hours )

Mission Statement

Mission Statement: To promote knowledge of astronomy and science (in general) for the residents in and around our community.

Membership Renewals for 2018 year are now due. Please send your checks to:  Lima Astronomical Society, Box 201, Lima, OH 45802.  The price is: Student $15: Individual $20: Family $25: Life Time $300.

End of Star Gazer

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