Natural History Museum at Polish American Cultural Center

Cleveland Museum of Natural History
at Polish American Cultural Center
Solar Eclipse 2024 Preview
March 16, 2024

Those of Polish heritage have always been rightfully proud of the accomplishments of Nicolaus Copernicus. The great Polish scientist Nicolaus Copernicus was a true Renaissance man. Copernicus was a mathematician, astronomer, physician, classical scholar, translator, artist, Catholic cleric, jurist, governor, military leader, diplomat and economist.

Astronomy was just part of his work yet he is most remembered for providing the first modern formulation of a heliocentric (Sun-centered) theory of the solar system. This could be said to be the starting point of modern astronomy and the beginning of the Scientific Revolution.

He is honored with a bust in the Polish Cultural Garden in Cleveland.

Nicoluas Copernicus statue in Polish Cultural Garden in Cleveland, Ohio (photos by Dan Hanson)

Copernicus statue in Polish Cultural Garden

So it was fitting that Copernicus would be mentioned as the community learns about and prepares for the upcoming Solar Eclipse on April 8.

Our Polish Ambassador Gary Kotlarsic reports that "On the beautiful sunny afternoon of March 16th, 2024, at the Polish American Cultural Center JPII, students of the Maria Konopnicka Polish language school and Henryk Sienkiewicz Polish language school had a wonderful time learning about the upcoming solar eclipse from Nick Anderson, Senior Astronomer of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Learning about the solar eclipse at Polish Center

Learning about the solar eclipse at Polish Center

Nick used visual aids and a hands-on approach to engage the children, taking them on a tour of the heavens and discussing the different types of eclipses. He even introduced the children to the concept of a pinhole projector, which they made themselves, that allowed them to view the sun outside safely.

Telescope at Polish Center

The children also had the opportunity to use the museum's cutting-edge solar telescope and observe the sun through welder-style glasses.

Little girl looking through Telescope at Polish Center

Following the presentation, the children enjoyed pizza and Torunskie Pierniki cookies, while parents enjoyed beverages in the cafe and explored the center's museum.

Torunskie pierniki

Copernicus was born on February 19, 1473 in the city of Torun (Thorn), in the province of Royal Prussia, in the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland. His father was a merchant from Kraków and his mother was the daughter of a wealthy Torun merchant. So it was fitting that the children enjoyed Torunskie pierniki (from Thorun).

They are often referred as Torun gingerbread cookies, pierniki derive their name from the Polish word pieprz, meaning pepper. The authentic recipe is still a closely guarded secret, but they are traditionally made with wheat or rye flour, honey, and a blend of spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, and cloves. Modern day pierniki come in various versions that are often glazed with chocolate or sugar and filled with fruit jams, chocolate or marzipan. They are a traditional Christmas treat as well as a cherished Polish souvenir.

Polish Heritage Garden History of Poland Placard #11

Polish Heritage Garden History of Poland
Placard on Copernicus

All parents and children expressed gratitude for the invitation to this CMNH presentation at the PACC.

Students at Polish Center for solar eclipse event

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