Art Camp: Solar Observing at the Cronyn Observatory, August 22nd, 2016

Mostly clear skies with some clouds greeted 31 visitors, including 26 children (ages 6—10) and 5 adults / leaders from the Boys & Girls Club of London Art Camp, for solar observing at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Monday, August 22nd, 2016, 10:00 a.m. They were welcomed by Professor Jan Cami who presented the digital slide presentation “Astronomy at Western” and fielded questions. The children were then divided into 2 groups, with one group going upstairs into the dome and the other downstairs for the “Transit Demo” in the “Black Room.”

RASC London Centre was represented by Paul Kerans and Bob Duff. Prior to the event Jan Cami and Paul Kerans set up both the observatory’s 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope (Sky-Watcher EQ5 mount) and 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain, with the Kendrick Astro Baader film white light solar filter, on the dome roof patio. Paul installed his MallinCam digital CDD camera on the 90mm Coronado but did not get an image on the flat screen TV he had set up on a chair inside the dome door.

Bob Duff gave a brief talk about the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome to the first group in the dome. Physics and Astronomy staff member Henry Leparskas opened the dome to let in some light and also accessed the NASA Solar Dynamic Observatory Web site on the dome computer. On the roof patio outside the dome, Paul showed the children the Sun through the 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope, using the CEMAX 18mm eyepiece (44.4X). Seeing conditions were good with prominences visible on the edge of the Sun as well as filaments and granulation noticeable on the solar surface. Bob showed the children sunspots on the Sun through the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain (26mm Plossl eyepiece, 77X) with the white light solar filter. Henry gave the telescope talk when the second group came upstairs into the dome.

Downstairs in the “Black Room” Jan made 2 demonstrations of the “Transit Demo” model—demonstrating the transit detection method for finding extra-solar planets—with the second demonstration to the group coming downstairs from the dome.

The children and their leaders were gone by around 11:05 a.m., after a very interesting and enjoyable slide presentation, “Transit Demo” and views of the Sun through solar filtered telescopes.