[Masthead - Herald]

Transit of Venus is a once-in-a-lifetime show

by Tom Davidson, Herald Staff Writer
May 28, 2012

FARRELL - A rare celestial wonder that won't be seen again for more than a century is set to play out before our eyes and Farrell's resident astronomer is giving locals a chance to get a first-hand look at a "black dawn."

"To me, it's fascinating," Ted Pedas said.

A professor emeritus at Youngstown State University and former astronomy teacher at Farrell, Pedas called the upcoming Transit of Venus "a fascinating example of how we've come to understand the solar system."

"What's going to happen is the planet Venus is coming in front of the face of the sun," Pedas explained. "It's going to create a black dawn."

It won't be a "total eclipse of the sun or anything," but will still be something to see when it happens, between 6 and 8 p.m. on June 5.

In preparation for the actual transit, the Ted Pedas Planetarium at Farrell Area School District will present a 40-minute program called "Shadows of the Sun: Transit of Venus."

The free program will be presented Tuesday and the day of the transit.

The 5 p.m. Tuesday show is booked full, but presentations at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. still have seats available and it will also be presented at 2, 3 and 4 p.m. June 5 prior to the outdoor viewing of the transit live between 6 and 8 p.m. behind Farrell High School.

People can register for the indoor lectures and outdoor events at calling the planetarium at 724-509-1258.

During the live outdoor viewing, people will be supplied with filtered glasses to safely view the event.

"We have to caution people not to stare at the sun," Pedas said.

Telescopes will be set up during the transit and broadcasts of the sights in other parts of Earth will also be made, he said.

The transits happen in pairs eight years apart every 110 years. The initial transit this time around was in 2004 and was not readily visible in North America.

Pedas, who was in Europe at the time, viewed it there.

"I don't want to give you the impression it's a total eclipse of the sun," he said.

But it's still worth watching, he said.

"You understood the place of the earth in our solar system," he said.

Throughout history, the transits have created a stir among men, Pedas said.

Starting in the 17th century, astronomers would travel the earth view the transit and it was used to calculate the "Astronomical Unit" of measure for celestial objects, Pedas said.

Although rendered moot by modern technological advances, watching the transit is now simply "a fun activity," he said.

"Having a front row seat to the transit can show us first hand the marvels and magnificence of our sun and solar system," Pedas wrote in a news release.

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Assignment - Solar Eclipse!

[Solar Eclipse Artwork]

Mrs. Annette Manilla, FASD Art Teacher, encouraged her students to capture the image of the Yuletide partial solar eclipse. The results of their out-of-this-world holiday assignment is illustrated in their drawings. The students thanked Planetarium Director Ted Pedas for providing solar eclipse viewing glasses for the students and staff of the school district.

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Ted Pedas Planetarium - NEWS

Christmas Eclipse Is A Once In A Lifetime Event

December 25, 2000

A partial solar eclipse of the sun occurs on Christmas Day, December 25, 2000.
The event will be visible throughout most of North America.
For a more detailed map of North America go to NASA's Eclipse Home page - NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

[George Pedas -Eclipse glasses]

Astronomer Ted Pedas donates Eclipse Viewing Devices

[Planetarium Skyfax] The Ted Pedas Planetarium is making available to the students and staff of the Farrell Schools complimentary pairs of “Eclipse Shades” the best and safest way to view the Sun during an eclipse,or at any other time. The souvenir glasses should be saved for future use. The lenses of these glasses are made of a new type of black polymer which blocks out 99.99% of the Sun's visible light, and 100% of the harmful ultra-violet (UV) wavelengths.

This year, on December 25, America will receive a special astronomical gift when the Moon passes in front of the Sun to produce a partial solar eclipse!

An Eclipse of the Sun can only take place at New Moon, and only if the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth. Under these conditions, the Moon's shadow sweeps across a portion of Earth's surface and an eclipse of the Sun is seen from that region. The Christmas eclipse will be visible from throughout the United States (except Alaska and Hawaii), and also from Canada, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and the North Atlantic.

From here in the Shenango Valley, almost 60% of the Sun's disk will be obscured by the body of the Moon on Christmas Day. The eclipse will begin at 10:55 AM EST; maximum coverage will be around 12:30 PM; and the eclipse will end shortly after 2:00 PM.

[Eclipse Viewing Glasses]


There are a few simple safety tips with regard to any solar eclipse. Although they may be simple, THEY MUST BE STRICTLY ADHERED TO in order to preserve your vision.


  1. DO use specially made eclipse viewing glasses.
  2. DO use number 14 welder's glass.
  3. DO use ONLY solar filters SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED for viewing the Sun!
  4. DO let yourself witness this spectacular event!

  5. DO NOT put on the eclipse glasses and then look through binoculars or a telescope!
  6. DO NOT try observing the eclipse by looking through home-made filters of any kind! This includes (but is not limited to) pop-tart wrapers, CD's, exposed film, smoked glass, mylar ballons, or old x-ray photos. These methods are UNSAFE!
  7. DO NOT try stacking pieces of welder's glass so the number ratings add up to 14 (the rating scale is NOT LINEAR!). Two pieces of number 7 glass DO NOT give the same protection as a single piece of number 14!
  8. DO NOT use any sort of item as a solar filter if it was NOT specifically DESIGNED for that use!
  9. DO NOT scratch the lenses of your glasses - discard immediately if the coating on the glasses has been disturbed.

What Makes an Eclipse Happen?

Literally, solar means "of the Sun" and eclipse means "to overshadow or leave out". A solar eclipse is the overshadowing of the Sun - when the Moon, Sun and Earth reach a point in their orbits that allows the Moon to block the Sun from our view.

 Eclipse Components
An eclipse of the Sun (or solar eclipse) can only occur at New Moon when the Moon passes between Earth and Sun. If the Moon's shadow happens to fall upon Earth's surface at that time, we see some portion of the Sun's disk covered or ‘eclipsed’ by the Moon.

Since New Moon occurs every 29 and a half days, you might think that we should have a solar eclipse about once a month. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen because the Moon's orbit around Earth is tilted 5 degrees to Earth's orbit around the Sun. As a result, the Moon's shadow usually misses Earth as it passes above or below our planet at New Moon.

At least twice a year, the geometry lines up just right so that some part of the Moon's shadow falls on Earth's surface and an eclipse of the Sun is seen from that rgion.

When we fall within only ‘part’ of the Moon's shadow we see a ‘ partial’ eclipse of the Sun. Partial eclipses are dangerous to look at because the un-eclipsed part of the Sun is still very bright. You must use special filters or eclipse glasses to safely watch a partial eclipse of the Sun.

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[Masthead - Vindicator]

December 22, 2000

Merry Christmas and happy eclipse watching
by Gail White

Pupils in Farrell Area School District will be keeping their eyes to the skies this Christmas. They will not see the same constellation that the shepherds in the field and wise men saw 2000 years ago, but they will witness an astronomical delight nonetheless.

A partial solar eclipse will occur Monday in what Ted Pedas, Farrell school district planetarium director, professor and columnist, is calling a “once in a lifetime event.”

The eclipse will begin at 10:55 a.m. Nearly 60 percent of the sun's surface will be covered at 12:30 p.m. and the eclipse will end shortly after 2 p.m.

Pedas is known throughout the area for his cosmological expertise and generosity. His brother, George, is the technical education director for the district. George has a quieter demeanor than his brother, but when talking astronomy, he flares a heartfelt passion as well.

As I talk with George in his office, his sister, Marcy Sigler calls. She is a real estate agent in New York City. Although she has already bought 200 eclipse glasses, she needs 500 more.

Astronomy is, indeed, a family affair.

But it is an affair that the Pedas clan has shared for years with young minds, stirring within them their own astronomical passions.

Thanks to Ted's generosity, every pupil, teacher and support staff member in the Farrell school district received a pair of eclipse glasses to view the phenomenon. His generosity did not go unnoticed by the pupils.

Responses: Ebony Davis, a 10th-grader at Farrell, is excited. “I'm going to watch it for sure,” she says. “It's not very often a person can see an eclipse in their lifetime. This will be my second.” She remembers when she was in fifth grade and the Pedases set up telescopes outside the school for another partial eclipse.

Curtis Fryson, a third-grader, may be move excited about wearing the glasses than the actual event. “They're cool! They look like 3-D glasses, ” he says merrily.

Even the first-graders understand the event. Marsha Evans explains. “The sun is going to look like it is going down, and then it will look like it is coming back up.”

First-grader Paula Fair interjects, “But don't touch the lenses!” referring to the eclipse glasses.

Teachers' preparations: Sixth-grade teacher Japraunika Wright has been making pinhole camera boxes with her classes. “They have been so excited about it. They are working so diligently,” she says, as she points to the black shoe boxes the pupils have painted.

JoAnna Wilson explains, “They are for being able to look at the sun and not get your eyes burned. ” These sixth-graders will be alternating between their pinhole boxes and their eclipse glasses.

Keith Fustos, a sixth-grade math teacher, is so impressed with his pupils' knowledge of the eclipse, he gives high-fives to his class after our visit.

Through all the excitement and anticipation, Ted and George are careful to stress the importance of using proper eye protection.

Marlin Howard, a 10th grader, asks, “Why would it hurt your eyes?”

“The ultraviolet rays will burn the retinas in your eyes just like a sunburn does to your skin,” George replies. He cautions that even though the sun might not seem bright when obscured by the moon, ultraviolet rays can still severly harm the eyes.

With their eclipse glasses, the pupils at Farrell will not have to worry about that. There is one concern, however: clouds, “Hope for a nice, sunny day,” George said.

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[Masthead - Herald]

by Joe Pinchot, Herald Staff Writer
Friday, December 22, 2000

Eclipse is one shady deal — New moon overshadows sun Dec. 25


The Herald - December 22, 2000

While it won't rival the Christmas star, a rare astronomical event could brighten this Christmas for stargazers.

A solar eclipse will mark the day for those who dare to venture away from their newly opened presents, provided the weather cooperates.

A solar eclipse occurs when the new moon passes between the earth and the sun. The moon's shadow moves across part of the earth, blocking out the sun for a brief period.

At the eclipse's height locally, about 12:30p.m., almost 60 percent of the sun will be obscured, said astronomer Ted Pedas of Farrell.

“If it's clear skies, it will be very visible,” said Pedas, who organizes cruise ship tours to eclipse sites and is writing a book on eclipses.

The eclipse will begin at 10:55 a.m. and end at 2 p.m.

A full solar eclipse darkens the sky, leaving a ring of fire. This eclipse -- called a partial or annular eclipse -- won't be so dramatic.

“People will not really know what's going on unless they look,” said Pedas, director of the planetarium named after him at Farrell schools. “Even with the sun covered 40 percent, it is still very bright.”

And it could still damage the eyes of those who look directly at it. The only direct way to safely see the eclipse is by wearing special glasses that Pedas has made available to students and staff of Farrell schools and West Middlesex elementaryschools, or welding glass with a rating of 14.

The glasses filter out ultraviolet and infrared light. Pedas didn't know of any other local sources for the glasses.

Indirect methods of viewing include pinhole cameras and using binoculars,telescopes or pinhole projectors to project the eclipse onto a flat surface.

The safest way is to punch a small hole in a piece of paper or cardboard and watch the image on another piece of white paper or cardboard.

Pedas promised that the indirect method will be a “wonderful way” to see the eclipse.

Some teachers incorporated the eclipse into classroom activities. Donna McGrath, West Middlesex elementary art teacher, is asking students who see the eclipse to draw what they see and bring the drawings to school for class discussion.

Lisa Kirila, who teaches fourth-grade math, science and social studies at Farrell, made a similar request of her students. She said student response has been eclipse-like.

“They were very excited,” she said. “The kindergartners and first-graders, their eyes were like huge saucers.”

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[Masthead - Herald]
Thursday, June 25, 1964

[Lunar Eclipse Sky Show']

What's with that Moon? — Nearly 200 persons turned out for the Eclipse Sky Show Wednesday night at the Farrell High athletic field to view the spectacle of the total eclipse of the moon. The astronomy enthusiasts are shown above as they prepared to view the eclipse. Lectures and discussions on the spectacle were also given and a group is shown crowding around a map of the moon in the second photo from left. A heavy cloud covering hampered attemps to veiw the total eclipse, but a sudden clearing at 10 p.m. enabled residents to catch a clear view of the concluding stages as the moon passed from the earth's shadow.

Sky Clears in Time For View of Eclipse

A sudden clearing of the thick cloud covering Wednesday night at 10 o'clock enabled area residents to catch a breathtaking view of the concluding stages of the total eclipse of the moon.

The thick clouds had spoiled attempts to view the first phases of the eclipse earlier in the evening before the sudden movement occurred. However, just as the totality ended and the moon passed from the shadow of the earth, the clouds cleared to give residents a perfect view.

Nearly 200 persons turned out to view the spectacle at the Farrell High School athletic field. About half of them left discouraged by the cloudy night, though, and missed viewing the eclipse when the sky cleared.

Those that stayed viewed the eclipse from an assortment of 18 telescopes and heard lectures from noted area astronomers. According to Ted Pedas, local astronomer who conducted the program, after 10 p.m. it was one of the clearest nights in the past month.

Besides viewing the phenomenon of the eclipse, the skygazers zeroed their telescopes in on meteors, double stars and star clusters. The program, which started at 8 p.m. didn't conclude until shortly before midnight.

Prior to the cloud clearing, the astronomy enthusiasts heard lectures on what was happening above the clouds from Warren Young, professor of astronomy at Youngstown University; Leo F. Grandmontagne, president of the Youngstown Astronomy Club, Robert Lambert, amateur astronomer, meteorologist and photographer, and Pedas, who writes an astronomy column for The Herald.

The totality of the eclipse, which area residents were not able to see, began at 8:16p.m. and lasted until 9:58 p.m.

[Lunar Eclipse Sky Show']

Learned and Superstitious — Although ‘Old Lady Superstition’ still exists (right photo) astronomy today is a science for learned men. Several of these noted astronomers lectured briefly at the Eclipse Sky Show. Shown at left with eight-inch telescope are, left to right, Peter Wenzen, amateur geologist and astronomer, Warren Young, professor of astronomy at Youngstown University; Ted Pedas, area astronomer who conducted the program, and Leo F. Grandmontagne, president of the Youngstown Astronomy Club. (Herald Photos)
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