Asteroid Day at the Cronyn Observatory, June 30th, 2016

Western University’s Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX) in collaboration with the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Department of Earth Sciences hosted a special event at the Hume Cronyn Memorial Observatory on Asteroid Day, Thursday, June 30, 2016. Asteroid Day is held each year on the anniversary of the 1908 Tunguska impact event—the largest in recent history—and is a global awareness campaign bringing people around the world together to learn about asteroids and how to protect future generations from cosmic impacts.

There were digital slide presentations by faculty members, including Professors, Peter Brown, “The Tunguska Event and the Hazard of Asteroid Impacts” (3:00 p.m.); Paul Wiegert, “Fire from the Sky: how Rocks from Space Fall to Earth” (4:00 p.m.); Mikael Granvik (University of Helsinki), “Killer Asteroids” (5:00 p.m.); and Audrey Bouvier “Meteorites: Messengers from Asteroids and Planets” (6:00 p.m.). Professor Audrey Bouvier, Curator of the Western Meteorite Collection, and students from the Earth Sciences Department fielded questions at the Meteorites & Impactites display table in the dome. It was an opportunity for the public to bring rocks they thought might be meteorites for inspection by meteorite experts and learn how to recognize them.

RASC London Centre was represented by Paul Kerans, Heather MacIsaac, Bob Duff and Peter Jedicke. On the roof patio outside the dome Paul Kerans set up the Cronyn Observatory’s 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope, on its Sky-Watcher EQ5 mount, and 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain with the Kendrick Astro Baader film solar filter. Paul, and then Bob Duff, showed people the Sun through the 90mm Coronado, using the 25mm eyepiece and 2X Barlow lens (64X) and, later, the 7mm Tele Vue Plossl eyepiece (31X). Undergraduate student William Hyland showed people the Sun through the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain (26mm Plossl eyepiece, 77X). Heather MacIsaac showed people the Sun through her Celestron Go-To 90mm Maksutov (32mm Plossl eyepiece, 39X) with Mylar solar film over the aperture. In the telescopes with the Baader and Mylar solar film filters the Sun was completely featureless with no sunspots visible. Through the 90mm Coronado people noticed filaments on the surface as well as some faint edge prominences on the Sun.

Among those present were graduate students Dilini Subasinghe, Kendra Kellogg and Laura Lenkic, as well as Parshati Patel, recently graduated with her doctorate. Physics and Astronomy Department staff and RASC member Henry Leparskas was there with his camera. Paul Kerans counted some 40 visitors by 3:40 p.m. and Dilini and Parshati, together with Bob Duff, estimated there were some 70 visitors in total when the event ended around 7:00 p.m.