Sunday, March 04, 2007

March 3 Lunar Eclipse in NYC - a success

Session name: 20070303.1600
Equipment: Takahashi FS-102 Refractor & Takahashi Flourite Apochromatic Binoculars (22x60) Binocular

A moment of Zen at Carl Schurz Park around 4:00.
While Tom C. was becoming with one with sky, I asked Mother Nature to open her arms to release her hold on the clouds that quilted the sky. The two of us were the only ones in sight waiting for the eclipse. Perhaps we were too eager. We quibbled that others may have been discouraged from showing because of the clouds.

Where were the rest of Team TotL?

The following photographs were taken prior to the lunar eclipse. There are none of the eclipse. (Even though I had the camera and adapters, the scope served the lines of people with real-time, eye popping views.) the I was able to take a few snapshots but eventually the number of people increased considerably. It became incredibly busy around each of us that had scopes and something to say - and most spectacular was that no accidents occurred. Bravo, people of NYC.

The eclipse was fascinating. Tom C. detected a dull, gloomy disk through the schmutz of the horizon. It was very dim offering little contrast to the sky. This was a muted gray lacking any hint of reds or copper. As it rose higher in the sky the gray became less muted and more pronounced as a dark gray in total lunar eclipse. Its color - or lack of it - was most pronounced when Moon began to egress Earth's shadow, brightening the limb at the Moon's southwestern edge, described as 7:00~ish.

I was fortunate to observe the blinking of 59 Leonis at the time of disappearance and reappearance using the Tak bins. It was easy and the flash off and on was instantaneous from these optics. Typically, it would be difficult to keep the star near a Full Moon as the Moon's glare would overwhelm the surrounding sky concealing the star near the limb. Not the case here tonight. Bruce & I both called out the disappearance, but on the reappearance, seemingly I was the only one who called it out.

In all it was a fantastic evening. I began the session with Tom C. hoping for clear skies, passed time with hundreds of friendly, polite, interested people, and completed the session with Tom C. Kin, and Charlie. Team TotL assembled and we were the last standing.

On my way home I came to realize a very important aspect of why I love astronomy. Actually, I love the congregation of people. The telescope attracts the good people and the spirit among us grows positively. Fraternity, warmth, fascination, awe, affection, reverence, inspiration, reflection, charity, goodwill ...

As we waited for the appointed hour, the sky began to clear. As minutes passed, more people came around. Local news picked up the story and were walking about and asking questions. As we waited, we made the best of Venus challenging the assembling people around the telescope to find her on the daytime sky. My telescope and binoculars were aimed at Venus for the folks to take a look.

The people gather in numbers. This is the ast photo of a growing congregation of people. If I said 200 persons showed I would think that to be a conservative number. Maybe 300. And there more than a dozen scopes and bins set up for the people to see. It felt as if there were hundreds that came by to look through the Tak siblings.

Even though I photographed John Pazmino, I missed him. I did see many with his NYSkies flyers that provided a description of the eclipse, illustrations, and the timetable.
Bruce Kamiat, lower right corner, is setting up his scope. Bruce is the Chair for the NYC Amateur Astronomy Association's (AAA)Observers Group and is at ease with explaining to the onlookers how the solar system works. The family in the center background stand near my scope and the boy uses my handheld binoculars looking for Venus.