Tag: herman heyn

Drat, We Missed Baltimorehenge!

This is Manhattanhenge, but you get the idea.
This is Manhattanhenge, but you get the idea.

Every year on March 13, I wake up with the nagging feeling that I’ve forgotten something important. And I have:  Baltimorehenge. That’s the name for one of the two days each year where the sun’s alignment matches up perfectly with the city’s street grids, resulting in an urban “canyon sunset” precisely between the city’s east-west street canyons.

Transit of Venus — Two Words: Hydrogen. Alpha.

The transit through a hydrogen-alpha telescope. iPhone Photo by Monica Lopossay.

There’s no way our 14-month-old son Asher will remember the experience, but my wife and I took him to see the transit of Venus, anyway. The thought of him confronting me about it later (“Dad, if you love me, why did you let me miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event?”) was just too much to bear.

So we got a small crew together (me, Asher, my wife Melanie, and our photographer-friend Monica) and headed to the east end of Lake Montebello with plenty of time and waited for clouds to pass and for local astronomy enthusiast Herman Heyn to set up his bulky telescope.

Monica told us that a few of her friends planned to watch the transit from a rooftop staring through their camera’s telephoto lens (but according to a post-transit text message, “the sun is too bright” for that).

Baltimore’s “Street Corner Astronomer” Encourages You to Stare at the Sun (Through a Special Telescope)

2004's transit

You want to talk about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? How about a transit of Venus — when the blue planet takes about six hours to cross in front of the Sun? It’s happening on June 5 at 6:04 p.m. And it’s not going to happen again until 2117. (Technically, it’s more of a twice-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as TOVs occur in pairs eight years apart — so, yeah, there was one in 2004, but whatever, you missed that and now this is your only chance!)

Herman Heyn, Baltimore’s “street corner astronomer” occasionally seen in Fells Point or Charles Village offering passersby telescopic glimpses of various celestial sights, will be at the east end of Lake Montebello in northeast Baltimore with a special Sun telescope so anyone who wants to can view the astronomical rarity without causing damage to their eyes.

Heyn encourages spectators to show up early because, according to Heyn’s website, “the most exciting part of a TOV is when Venus first appears on the edge of the Sun.”