The Herald (Sharon, Pa) November 8, 2003
Nature often provides us spectacles, some dangerous and exciting, some beautiful and calming.
If Mother Nature cooperates, one of those beautiful and calming spectacles is expected to be visible in the sky tonight. If it's not too cloudy, Mercer County residents can watch the full moon dim into a dark, ruddy orb as it drifts through Earth's shadow.
The start of the eclipse will begin at 6:33 p.m., said local astronomer Ted Pedas. The total eclipse will begin at 8:06 p.m. and end at 8:31 p.m., he said.
"It's going to be a very, very exciting show for locals to go out and see," Pedas said. "It's rare that we have a total eclipse that's so visible so early in the evening."
Pedas, director of Farrell Area School District's Ted Pedas Planetarium, said eclipses usually occur in the middle of the night and people have to set their alarm clocks to watch them.
The total eclipse will be very short, only about 25 minutes, while many can last as long as 1 hour and 40 minutes, Pedas said.
This heavenly happening is unusual not only because it's so early in the evening, but also because it's the second lunar eclipse this year, Pedas said. There was a total eclipse in May.
"It's only every few years, about every three years, that we get an interesting total eclipse for the Shenango Valley," Pedas said. "It's only once a decade or longer that we get one that's nice and early in the evening."
Unlike eclipses of the sun, which can damage viewers' unprotected eyes, lunar eclipses are safe to watch with the naked eye or binoculars.
"It's a fun thing to take the family out," Pedas said. He said everyone will have to keep their fingers crossed for good weather.
Depending on how much pollution is in the sky because of volcanic eruptions, viewers may be able to see a very faint outline of the moon during the total eclipse, Pedas said.
Total lunar eclipses come in many colors, from dark brown and red to bright orange, yellow and even gray, depending on how much dust and clouds are in the Earth's atmosphere at that time, said Stephen Maran, a spokesman for the American Astronomical Society.
Lunar eclipses have played a major role in history, Pedas said.
He said when Christopher Columbus ran out of food on a trip, he went to the natives but they weren't very friendly. Columbus, who knew of an impending eclipse, told the natives he would take away their moon. When the eclipse came, the natives thought Columbus was a god and brought him food, Pedas said.
In ancient times, the phenomenon was believed to be caused by some unseen monster bloodying the moon, an omen of disaster.
Eclipses may have been mystical then, but now people understand the science behind them. Pedas said they prove the mechanics of the solar system as the moon comes into the shadow of the earth.
More information about the sky above Mercer County can be found at the Ted Pedas Planetarium
The Herald (Sharon, Pa) July 18, 2009
SHENANGO VALLEY - "It's different, but it's very pretty out here," Neil A. Armstrong said. "It has a stark beauty all of its own."
He and fellow astronaut Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin Jr. were on the moon.
It was 10:56:20 p.m. EDT on July 20, 1969 - 40 years ago Monday - when Armstrong exited lunar lander Eagle and set foot on the moon, taking "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
Aldrin followed him and the pair "walked, hopped and loped over the moon," according to United Press International science writer Edward K. Delong's account in the July 21, 1969 edition of The Sharon Herald.
"Isn't it fun?" Armstrong asked Aldrin as people around the globe watched on television, thanks to cameras supplied by Westinghouse.
The world watched and marveled at the spectacle.
"It was one of those things that were beyond understanding," retired Herald Editor James A. Dunlap said.
Now 87, Dunlap said he doesn't have vivid memories of the event, but noted it as a touchstone of human history.
"It's always amazed me," he said.
The moon walk was the culmination of a challenge President John F. Kennedy issued in 1960 - three years after Americans were caught off guard when the Russians successfully launched Sputnik and became the first space pioneers.
Kennedy launched the space program and the country spent billions of dollars competing in the "space race."
It's something Farrell astronomer and philanthropist Ted Pedas fondly recalls.
Sputnik inspired panic because Americans wondered "what went wrong" that the Soviets beat us to space, Pedas said. It also inspired him to take up astronomy at Youngstown State University, he said.
After Kennedy challenged the country to enter the space race, "everyone got caught up in the idea," he said.
"Are they going to make it?" people wondered, Pedas said.
"It was a very uncomfortable time," he said.
America was fighting a war in Vietnam, the Civil Rights movement was in full swing, and as the 1960s went on the nation was rocked by the assassinations of JFK, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. People "needed something to inspire" them.
Space exploration and the hope of landing on the moon provided it, Pedas said.
It cost the country dearly - more than $25 billion - but that money also was a "massive stimulus program" that helped the economy, created jobs and resulted in inventions that benefit us to this day.
Pedas was participating in a model rocketry program at Michigan State University on that day of the moon landing.
He remembered watching the events unfold on television.
"It was really grainy, almost a non-event," he said of the broadcast.
The late CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite's narration was unsure.
"I think that might be his foot ... that might be dust ..." Pedas recalled Cronkite saying.
After Armstrong uttered the immortal words about "one giant leap" for mankind, Pedas remembered Uncle Walter asking "what did he say?"
That the milestone was captured on film and broadcast back to earth was in itself amazing, Dunlap said.
"Not only were we able to put a man on the moon, we were able to watch it on television," he said. "It was amazing."
February 6, 1995
Studying the sun, the moon, the stars sky's a puzzle to planetarium director at FHS
By Sandy Scarmack
E-mail: Ted Pedas