Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Photo: Rare Phenomenon - Toronto Skyline Seen Across Lake Ontario in NY State!

Photograph of the skyline of the City of Toronto taken from across Lake Ontario in the small hamlet of Olcott, New York, one minute after sunset on 2017 August 19 (a distance of 42 miles / 68 kilometers). Internet links to two additional photographs near end of this blog-post.
© Copyright 2018 SpaceWatchtower; Images can be reproduced only with publication of the following credit notice:
 Image Source: SpaceWatchtower Blog;
Photographer: Pittsburgh-Area Free-Lance Photographer Lynne S. Walsh

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

At 2.5 million light-years from Earth, the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) is normally considered the furthest object that can be seen with the naked-eye (1-power magnification). But, what is the furthest object on Earth's surface-level that can be seen with the naked-eye? Last year, a free-lance photographer took a photograph of the Toronto skyline from New York State, across the width of Lake Ontario – a distance of 42 miles / 68 kilometers!

While vacationing in Western New York State, Pittsburgh-area free-lance photographer Lynne S. Walsh (the author's sister) took the photograph displayed at the beginning of this blog-post showing the Toronto skyline in silhouette, with light from one minute after sunset behind the skyline. The structure seen furthest on the left of this photograph is the iconic CN Tower, the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere, rising to a height of 1,815.3 feet / 553.3 meters.

This photograph was taken from the Lakeview Village Shoppes on Ontario Street, in the small hamlet of Olcott, New York, on Saturday Evening, 2017 August 19 at 8:12:13 p.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / August 20 at 0:12:13 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, sunset that evening in Olcott, Niagara County, New York occurred at 8:11 p.m. EDT / August 20, 0:11 UTC. Since Ms. Walsh was on vacation, she did not use a special camera. This photograph was taken using her LG-brand Smart-Phone!

James McKee, a Pittsburgh-area resident who grew-up in this area of Western New York State, tells the author that, over the years, several people have seen the Toronto skyline across Lake Ontario—sometimes even in the daytime on a very clear day!

Due to the curvature of the Earth, normally, people cannot see across any of the Great Lakes. In fact, for a normal person approximately six-feet in height, they could not see much past the horizon, about 2.9 miles away (2.65 miles away for people around five-feet in height). So, how is it that the skyline of Toronto, 42 miles / 68 kilometers away, can be seen across Lake Ontario?

The author put this question to Francis G. Graham, Professor Emeritus of Physics at Kent State University. Professor Graham, who earlier in his career was a Planetarium and Observatory Lecturer at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, provided the following explanation:

Your question was asked of me in regards to Cleveland.

From the Key Bank top floor in Cleveland, one should not be able to see the shore of Canada across Lake Erie.  The straight-line distance to the horizon places the horizon in the middle of Lake Erie. 
But due to refraction from warm air, Canada is occasionally glimpsed from the Key Bank building.  I have not witnessed it, but it is reliably told.

The straight-line distance to the horizon is given by d in the Pythagorean Theorem,

d =  square root of  [  (R + h ) ^2  -  (R)^2 ]  

where h is the height of the structure and R is the radius of the Earth (which varies slightly).  

Refraction can extend this.  So it would be possible to see Toronto on some days across  (Lake) Ontario. 

Key (Bank) Tower, referred to by Professor Graham, is the tallest building in the state of Ohio, located on Public Square in the center of Downtown Cleveland. With 57 floors, the building rises 947 feet / 289 meters to the top of the spire (the top floor is at a height of 888 feet / 271 meters).

It should also be noted that while the Andromeda Galaxy is normally considered the furthest object that can be seen with the naked-eye, there are claims that two further galaxies may also be visible to the naked-eye, from time-to-time: Triangulum Spiral (M33) is the third largest member of the Local Group at a distance of 2.78 million light-years and Bode's Galaxy (M81) at a distance of 12 million light-years.

Today (2018 March 6) is the 184th anniversary of the incorporation of Toronto as a city (on 1834 March 6).

Special Thanks: Pittsburgh-Area Free-Lance Photographer Lynne S. Walsh, James McKee, and Francis G. Graham, Professor Emeritus of Physics, Kent State University.

Internet links to two additional photographs of the Toronto skyline from across Lake Ontario in Olcott, New York ---

2017 August 19, 7:40:26 p.m. EST / 23:40:26 UTC:
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/osc/Toronto-Olcott20170819_194026.jpg

2017 August 19, 7:40:55 p.m. EST / 23:40:55 UTC:
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/osc/Toronto-Olcott20170819_194055.jpg

These two photographs are
© Copyright 2018 SpaceWatchtower; Images can be reproduced only with publication of the following credit notice:
 Image Source: SpaceWatchtower Blog;
Photographer: Pittsburgh-Area Free-Lance Photographer Lynne S. Walsh

Internet link to an additional photograph of the Toronto skyline from across Lake Ontario in Olcott, New York, taken about 20 minutes prior to sunset using the camera on an I-Phone 8 smart-phone ---

2018 June 10:
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/osc/Toronto-Olcott20180610-IMG_3673.jpg

Internet Links to Additional Information ---

Lake Ontario: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Ontario

Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toronto

Olcott, Niagara County, New York: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olcott,_New_York

Lake Erie: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Erie

Key (Bank) Tower, Cleveland: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_Tower

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
             2018 March 6.

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Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
& SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Astronomy Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#astrolinks >
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Barnestormin Blog: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, etc.: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >


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