WinterFest 2013 - Week 2
Friday, February 22, 2013
Planetarium Open House - Mural Unveiling - Free Night
An opportunity to see our newly restored and redesigned black light zodiac mural and meet the mural artist, Ms. Jackie Baughman. The mural spans three of the planetarium's four walls. A signature feature of the Schouweiler Planetarium since the mid 1970's, the newly re-imaged mural is now assured a continued long life.
Friday's open house is a free event.
Behind the scenes tours of the planetarium facilities will be offered. Light refreshments will be served. Several screenings of the 15-minutes planetarium show, "Welcome to the Universe", will be presented during the course of the evening. There will be prizes as well as a few other surprises during the evening.
There is no schedule for Friday's event. Visitors may come and go as they please.
The collage above is a “tease sneak peak” of some of the imagery in our newly restored Zodiac Mural that covers three of the planetarium’s four walls. The collage was prepared by our mural artist Jackie Baughman, from her original designs. The black light mural dates back to the early years of the planetarium in the 1970’s.
The construction of Stoeckley Atrium in 2009 provided a much needed additional entrance/exit to the planetarium theater. The new door on the south wall cut through the Aquarius mural figure, requiring the relocation of the three constellation figures comprising the south wall mural. After more than 3 decades of chipping plaster and flaking paint the entire mural was beginning to look its age.
Early in 2010, Jackie Baughman, an art major who had recently joined the planetarium staff as a Planetarium Educator, agreed to tackle the “restoration” of the entire three-wall mural. The old constellation figures were traced before the campus painters, repaired, sanded and repainted the walls with semi-gloss black paint. Jackie re-imagined and re-designed many of the original mural figures.
Over the last decade, planetarium upgrades blocked the view of several constellations. Frequent consultations were held between the artist, the planetarium director and the planetarium technician to determine the relocation adjustments necessary to provide a better view of all figures. The thirteenth constellation of the astronomical zodiac was added. Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer, is one of the largest constellations in area. Due to space considerations, it was decided to represent only that part of Ophiuchus that ecliptic, the path of the planets passes through, three stars connected by a blue line.
Now after nearly three years of work the new “re-imagined” astronomical zodiac mural is complete. A signature feature of the Schouweiler Planetarium since the mid 1970’s, the mural is now assured a continued long life.
The June 5 Transit of Venus EAST and WEST sites together hosted several hundred people.
Thanks to all the hopefuls who came under changing, intermittent cloud covers. Their patience was rewarded with great views of the perfectly round black silhouette disk of the planet Venus slowly making its way across the Sun's disk until sunset interrupted the view of the transit in progress.
At the USF WEST site, a hole opened up in the clouds shortly after first contact, when the edge of Venus is first seen moving into the disk of the sun. All present were able to watch Venus move across the sun through second contact, when the full disk of Venus is seen inside the disk of the sun.
For the next two and a half hours until sunset, everyone visiting the site got a chance to see the transit in progress. There were a number of filtered telescopes; three direct viewing telescopes, one "sun funnel" equipped telescope for small group viewing, one telescope projecting to an easel for group viewing, and one direct Hydrogen alpha filtered telescope. The red light Ha telescope also rewarded folks with views of solar prominences. Prominences are "flame like" streamers of plasma coming from the edge of the Sun.
Following sunset people gathered in Gunderson Auditorium, Achatz Hall of Science on the USF campus to watch the rest of transit on the big screen via NASA's Hawaiian web cast. Later in the evening the folks staffing the EAST site at Jefferson Township Park, east of New Haven, returned to watch the web cast. By midnight about fifteen Schouweiler staff, FWAS members and a few members of the community were all that remained to watch the concluding forty minutes of the transit from Hawaii and share a toast or two of sparkling nonalcoholic apple cider.
Our best "guess-estimate" counts is that slightly in excess of 300 people visited the USF West Gunderson Auditorium Internet viewing location and a similar number slightly in excess of 300 people also visited the parking lot telescope site to observe the transit. The assumption is that most folds visited both WEST sites, although staff talked with some individuals that were only visiting one or the other of the two sites.
In addition, WANE TV, complete with mobile satellite truck, did evening news remote feeds from the telescope site. Indiana's News Center TV and WFFT TV were also at the telescope site taping interviews with staff, visitors, and imaging the transit for broadcast later in the evening.
At the FWAS Jefferson Township Park EAST site, the experience for those present was similar to those at the USF West site. Holes in the clouds opened shortly after the start of the Transit. Periodic brief to 10+ minutes cloud interruptions gave folks time to visit and do some astronomy and telescope tech talk.
Best guess-estimate counts at the EAST sites are about 80 observing the transit at the FWAS Jefferson Township observatory site. The Internet site, which operated from 5:30 pm-8:45 pm at the New Haven Branch of the Allen County Library, staffed by one FWAS member, saw 38 visitors.
Those who visited Jefferson Township Park site now know how to get to the new Fort Wayne Astronomical Society Observatory site. http://fortwayneastronomicalsociety.com
The Jefferson Township Park observatory is open every clear Saturday evening from April through November. Plans are well under way for the construction of a permanent observatory structure at the Jefferson Township Park location. The former Fort Wayne Astronomy Society Fox Island Observatory ceased operation the last Saturday of November 2011. In December an outbuilding was relocated to Jefferson Township Park, the dome has been razed and site is being returned to former condition.
The Schouweiler Planetarium and the Fort Wayne Astronomical Society thank all the local media for their help and cooperation in publicizing this last Fort Wayne Transit of Venus until 2125 and for their coverage of the Transit in progress.
We are still assessing and collecting images taken at both Fort Wayne EAST and WEST sites. We will post a number of them on this page. So check back in a few weeks, you might find a picture of you looking at the Transit of Venus.
We will keep this Transit of Venus page up and current through most of the summer of 2012. We assume some of the international Transit of Venus web sites will be active for a few years. That said, here are our suggestions, if you are interested in learning more about the role played by the 7th of human observed Transit of Venus in science, anthropology, exploration and war, check out these sites.
If you missed Chuck Bueter’s April 25th USF Campus appearance and presentation: “Transit of Venus: an Astronomical Alignment with Meaning,” you can still hear it while viewing the pictures Chuck used in his talk. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bufgnyXw7c&feature=youtu.be
What is The Transit of Venus?
A transit of Venus occurs when, from the vantage point of Earth, the planet Venus is seen as a dot passing across the face of the sun. Transits of Venus played important historical and scientific roles in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Expeditions were mounted to remote parts of the world to time and measure transit phenomena for calculating the size of Venus and the Earth-Sun distance.
Rare transits of Venus occur in pairs a few years apart and then not again for more than a hundred years.
The June 5-6 (Depending upon your location on Earth) is the last of the current Venus transit pairs; the first of this pair was in 2004. This is the last Venus transit until 2117. The 2117 transit will not be visible from Fort Wayne, the second of the pair in 2025 will. Transits of Venus occur in pairs about 8 years apart. The occurrence of the pairs repeats alternating from either 121.5 years or 105.5 years.
This June 5, 2012 Transit is only the 7th seen by humans. The development of new technology —the telescope— and the new understandings astronomy and mathematics that were developed in the 15th and 16th centuries enabled Jeremiah Horrocks to predict and then observe the Transit of Venus in 1639.
The place to start for information about transits of Venus is http://www.transitofvenus.org. This site began and maintained by Chuck Bueter before the 2004 Transit of Venus is your link to planet wide transit events, information, and educational resources.
Today, similar and more precise electronic measurements are made by astronomers and spacecraft to locate possible planets in transit around stars other than the Sun. NASA’s Kepler Mission launched in March 2009, is the first space mission to search for Earth-size planets in the habital zone of other stars in our galactic neighborhood. Kepler precisely measures the light variations from thousands of distant stars. These variations occur when an unseen planet around the star transits in front of the star blocking some of the stars light. For more go to: www.kepler.nasa.gov.
The Schouweiler Planetarium and the Fort Wayne Astronomical Society (FWAS) are jointly sponsoring events leading up to and including the June 5, 2012 Transit of Venus.
The Fort Wayne Astronomical Society is a not-for-profit organization, incorporated in 1959, for the purpose of public education in astronomy and related sciences. The society holds public meetings the third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at Schouweiler Planetarium. The society has moved its public observing site and conducts public observing sessions at Jefferson Township Park every clear Saturday evening, from April through November, led by experienced society members. Visit http://fortwayneastronomicalsociety.com
For four decades, the Edwin Clark Schouweiler Memorial Planetarium has provided astronomy education experiences to the greater Fort Wayne area as an outreach of the University of Saint Francis. Visit www.sf.edu/planetarium
The University of Saint Francis, founded in 1890 as a comprehensive university in the Catholic Franciscan tradition, offers more than 60 undergraduate and 14 graduate programs in five schools: The School of Health Sciences, School of Arts and Sciences, Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership, School of Professional Studies and School of Creative Arts. More than 2,300 students from a broad geographic region attend USF for its academic excellence. The university has a regional campus in Crown Point, Ind.