Cronyn Observatory Open House, Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

Mostly cloudy skies greeted visitors to the Cronyn Observatory Open House, Saturday, June 23rd, beginning 8:30 p.m. Professor Shantanu Basu made his digital slide presentation on, “Galaxies,” before some 44 visitors, which soon increased to 61, with some people going directly upstairs to the dome and roof patio. RASC London Centre members Peter Jedicke, Steve Gauthier, Dale Armstrong, and Bob Duff assisted in the dome, while Richard Gibbens listened to Dr. Basu’s slide presentation downstairs in the lecture room.

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The Transit of Venus, June 5th, 2012

Venus Transit

Venus TransitWestern University and Cronyn Observatory

On Tuesday, June 5th, the planet Venus transited across the Sun, beginning at 6:03 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The transit continued through sunset at 8:50 p.m. and ended 6 ½ hours after it began. Graduate students and other people from Western’s Physics and Astronomy Department, coordinated by Professor Jan Cami, organized and publicized the Transit of Venus event on campus.

Despite cloudy morning weather, the sky cleared by late afternoon for the Venus Transit event at Western’s Cronyn Observatory and Springett Parking Lot, with gates open to visitors, 4:30 p.m. A 15-foot square tent was set up, with tables and chairs, in the southeast corner of the parking lot, which was cordoned off with yellow tape.

In the Cronyn Observatory graduate students set up a poster display about Venus in science, history, art and mythology. Upstairs in the dome, the big 25.4cm refractor was fitted with a Herschel wedge and projection screen, allowing observation of the transit until 7:30 p.m. when the Sun disappeared behind the Engineering building.

A line-up of visitors soon formed outside the Cronyn and a festive crowd gathered at Springett, so that by 6:15 p.m. more than 900 Baader film solar filter glasses had been distributed and there were non left!

There were at least 14 RASC London Centre members present for the event, including Robert Atkinson, Everett Clark, Mike Costa, Roman Dubinski, Bob Duff, Steve Gauthier, Dennis Giasson, Ingrid Hutchinson, Peter Jedicke, Maria Lavdas, Matt Neima, Mike Roffey, Rick Saunders and Harold Tutt. Don McKenzie, a possible member or former member was also there. There were 9 telescopes, not including the SunSpotter, which produced an image by projection.

Western’s newly acquired 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope on its computerized Sky-Watcher EQ5 mount was a star attraction, fitted with a CCD camera and live feed to a large TV screen in the tent. Detail was visible on the Sun’s surface along with the black disk of Venus.

Matt Neima and Bob Duff set up the RASC London Centre’s 60mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope on Matt’s Celestron GoTo mount and Mike Roffey later got the computer tracking system working. Maria and Everett shared duties with Matt in operating Coronado, which amazed visitors with views of solar prominences and sunspots.

Bob Duff set up the Cronyn Observatory’s 8-inch (203mm) Meade 2080 LX3 Schmidt-Cassegrain with a Kendrick Astro Baader film white-light solar filter. The black disk of Venus was observed crossing the Sun’s limb with no apparent black-drop effect. Sunspots were visible as well as the thin edge of Venus’ atmosphere around the black disk of the planet. Ingrid Hutchinson took over the Schmidt-Cassegrain for a while as Bob walked around Springett lot to inspect other telescopes.

Mike Roffey had his 80mm Celestron refractor with a solar filter set up right between Matt Neima with the 60mm Coronado and Bob Duff with the Schmidt-Cassegrain. Robert Atkinson operated Matt’s 111mm AstroTech refractor with a Thousand Oaks solar filter, on his EQ6 mount, set up on the northeast corner of the observing site. Dennis Giasson set up his 200mm, f/9, Vixen VC200L, “modified SCT,” fitted with a 55mm glass solar filter over the dust cover. He recorded images and video with a Canon T2I DSLR camera.

Mike Costa had a steady line-up of people viewing the transit through his home-built 25.4cm Truss-Tube Dobsonian with an off-axis solar filter. There were also Rick Saunders, with his 80mm Stellarvue Nighthawk refractor, fitted with a Baader film solar filter and camera; and Harold Tutt, with his 80mm Stellarvue Nighthawk refractor, fitted with a homemade Baader solar film filter. Peter Jedicke spent the whole transit time with Fanshawe College’s SunSpotter folded refractor, which had a 57mm aperture, 700mm focal length, and delivered a 56X image with unfiltered projection.

Steve Gauthier went around with a Thousand Oaks glass solar filter, inviting people to view the Sun without a telescope. With Bob Duff’s assistance he held the filter over the aperture of the Schmidt-Cassegrain to enable a graduate student to photograph the transit in yellow light, at prime focus with a Barlow lens.

Roman Dubinski shared 2 solar glasses and one No. 14 welder’s glass filter with some visitors and later joined Gary Hinks’ transit observing group at the Rona hardware store.

Maria Lavdas estimated that there were about 2,200 visitors all together at both the Cronyn Observatory and the Springett parking Lot. Venus Transit observing ended around 8:30 p.m., when the Sun dipped below the trees to the west.

However, the event was not over. Several members, including Peter Jedicke, Steve Gauthier, Mike Costa, Matt Neima and Bob Duff helped Professor Jan Cami haul equipment back to the Cronyn. Remaining visitors were invited to view Saturn and Mars until 11:00 p.m. In all, it was a very successful and well organized event by faculty and staff members, the graduate students and RASC London Centre members who were involved.

For more photos of the event please visit the Department of Physics photo album located here.

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Cronyn Observatory Open House, Saturday, June 9th, 2012

Clear skies greeted visitors to the Cronyn Observatory Open House, Saturday, June 9th, 8:30 p.m. Dr. Sarah Gallagher made her digital slide presentation, “The Early Days of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory,” twice; the first group included 18 visitors and the second, just 6 people. In all there were an estimated 30—40 visitors at the slide talks and in the dome.

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