August 23, 2014

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Lakeview Park telescopes offer up-close view of sun on International Sun-Day

Jaidyn Boulware, 9, of North Olmsted, covers her eye to help her see the sun through a telescope Sunday afternoon on International Sun Day at Lakeview Park in Lorain. ANNA NORRIS/CHRONICLE

Jaidyn Boulware, 9, of North Olmsted, covers her eye to help her see the sun through a telescope Sunday afternoon on International Sun Day at Lakeview Park in Lorain. ANNA NORRIS/CHRONICLE

LORAIN — Visitors to Lakeview Park got to see a big star up close Sunday.

About 10 telescopes pointed at the sun were on hand courtesy of the Black River Astronomical Society. The society took part in International Sun-Day, an event designed to give people a better understanding of the sun and the catastrophic effects if climate change isn’t addressed.

“We need to make a concerted worldwide effort to educate ourselves about the sun’s inner workings, both as scientists and citizens,” said a society news release. “Understanding the sun is the first step in finding solutions toward global Armageddon and stopping global warming by eliminating the insane usage of fossil fuels and learning to use passive, free solar power.”

In addition to the telescopes, a digital thermometer gave participants a chance to see how the Earth is warming. A 2013 report by the International Panel on Climate Change found evidence that human-made global warming was “unequivocal” and changes since the 1950s are “unprecedented.”

Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer than any previous decade since 1850, and 1983 to 2012 was the warmest 30-year period in 1,400 years. A March 31 panel report said worldwide warming presents “pervasive risks.”

Besides the telescopes and digital thermometer, society members erected a 15-foot-tall, 50-foot-wide sundial on Lakeview Beach. The sundial included a 28-foot gnomon, a wooden beam aligned with the Earth’s axis. Shadows on the sand told the time.

Member Gary Smith said he spent about 25 hours building the sundial. He said he’s always wanted to build a big sundial. “This was the perfect opportunity,” he said.

The park event was part of an international outreach effort, said society member John O’Neal. The event was organized by the Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Program, a nonprofit group that educates people about the sun’s effect on aviation, communications and the environment, according to its website.

Bates was an Atlanta air traffic controller who died in 2008. The program was formed in tribute to him by his friend and colleague Stephen Ramsden. The group, which has members in 18 countries, serves 80,000 people annually, according to its website.

The Black River society was formed in 1949 and has about 60 members, said Steve Schauer, society president. The Sun-Day was a first, but the society regularly holds public events. About 3,000 people came to the park in 2012 to observe the transit of Venus through telescopes.

Sunday’s event had a lighter turnout, but organizers said hundreds took part including Sheffield resident Carynn Kimbrough.

She said it was enlightening to see solar flares through the telescope.

“Nature can be amazing some times,” she said.

O’Neal, a member since 1974, said he hopes events like Sunday’s will inspire young people to become astronomers or scientists.

“That’s what it’s all about,” he said. “The kids.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.

Astronomy Appreciation

  • The Black River Astronomical Society meets the first Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the John Nielsen Observatory near the equestrian center, at Lorain County Metro Parks Carlisle Reservation, 13630 Diagonal Road, Carlisle Township. Meetings are open to the public and include viewing the stars through telescopes. For more information, visit blackriverastro.org.

  • Phil Blank

    Don’t try this at home!
    The telescopes and binoculars shown have special filters to block the harmful rays of the sun.

    Besides you can see the sun online free at the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center: http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/index.html

    And at Space Weather: http://spaceweather.com/

  • golfingirl

    Why do you need a cardboard box to view a Lunar eclipse?

    Solar eclipse yes, Lunar eclipse, no.

    A Lunar eclipse can be viewed with the naked eye, without fear of damage. It is dimmer than looking at a full moon.