Clear skies greeted 30 visitors, including 25 youth (ages 12—16) and 5 counsellors from the Indigenous Services Mini-University Summer Camp at Western to the Cronyn Observatory, Wednesday, August 1st, 8:30 p.m. Professor Jan Cami began his digital slide presentation shortly after 8:30 p.m. He spoke briefly about Astronomy at Western and then about current space missions exploring the solar system. Undergraduate student Neil Bhatt assisted in the lecture room and later opened Starry Night PRO, with Saturn, on the computer in the dome.
Clear skies greeted visitors to the Cronyn Observatory Open House for the Mars Curiosity Rover landing, Sunday, August 5th / 6th, 10:00 p.m.—2:00 a.m. Professor Pauline Barmby coordinated the event and introduced the first speaker, graduate student Tanya Harrison, who had worked on the spacecraft cameras. Tanya made her digital slide presentation, “Going to Gale,” explaining the landing procedure and significance of Gale crater. Later in the evening, RASC London Centre President, Rick Saunders, presented the RASC London Centre’s Observer of the Year Award to Kelly Manson.
Among Astronomy faculty members and many graduate students were Professor Jan Cami and postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Phil McCausland, who set up his tripod-mounted binoculars on the roof patio. RASC London Centre was represented by 10 members, including Everett Clark, Robert Duff, Richard, Gibbens, Mike Hanes, Mike Jager, Peter Jedicke, Kelly Manson, Dave McCarter, Mike Roffey & Rick Saunders. On hand was coffee, drinks, popcorn, cookies and Mars bars, some of which were contributed by RASC London Centre members.
Throughout the evening more people arrived and some left early. Bob Duff counted 65 people in the lecture room, dome and roof patio, with 7 more arrivals bringing the count to 72. However, Everett Clark noted that some people had left and that that the total was likely 90 or more people. Dave McCarter counted 96 people in the dome, roof patio and lecture room and estimated that the total was over 100 people, if students, RASC London Centre members and the public are all included.
While Curiosity was making its final approach to Mars, visitors had the opportunity to do some star gazing upstairs in the dome and roof patio. The 25.4cm refractor was directed towards Saturn and later the waning gibbous Moon, as it rose in the eastern sky around midnight. They made fine sights through the 28mm Meade Super Wide Angle (157X) and later, the Tele Vue 18mm Radian (244X) eyepieces.
RASC London Centre members Everett Clark, Kelly Manson and Bob Duff set up the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian and the Observatory’s Meade 8-inch (203mm) LX3 Schmidt-Cassegrain on the roof patio. Kelly installed his binocular viewer in the Schmidt-Cassegrain and showed people the rising Moon. He later replaced his binocular viewer with the telescope’s diagonal and 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece (160X). The best view of the Moon was with 26mm Plossl (77X) eyepiece.
Bob Duff showed the visitors the moon, M13, M57, Epsilon Lyrae and Vega in the 25.4cm Dobsonian, using the 17mm Nagler (67X) and 6mm Ortho (190.5X) eyepieces. The Ring Nebula (M57) showed a considerable improvement in contrast with the Orion Narrow Band Nebula Filter (67X).
A live video link to NASA by computer enabled visitors to share in the breathtaking descent of the Mars Curiosity Rover through the planet’s atmosphere to the final touchdown in Gale crater shortly before 1:30 p.m. Confirmation of the successful landing was received with the first thumbnail images of the surface of Mars and the rover’s shadow, arriving at light-speed 13 minutes after touchdown.
The Observatory was closed down around 2:00 a.m. after an extraordinary evening highlighted by the successful landing of the Mars Curiosity Rover in Gale crater.
Higher Education Liaison
RASC London Centre
RASC London Centre held its Annual Banquet on Saturday, July 28th, celebrating its 90th Anniversary with the special tribute to its founding President, Dr. Harold R. Kingston (1922—1930), whose antique brass telescope was on display, donated to the London Centre by his grandson, John Kingston. Also celebrated was our recent outgoing and longest serving President (1999—2011), Dave McCarter. David Levy was our main speaker and Guest of Honour. However, a few members paid a visit to the Cronyn Observatory after the banquet.
Postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Elisabella Micelotta made 2 presentations of her digital slide show, “Cosmic Fullerenes,” before audiences of 23 and 13, respectively, with 9 visitors, including children going upstairs to the dome and roof patio. A couple more people brought the estimated total to 47 visitors.
Hazy clouds greeted visitors to the Cronyn Observatory Open House, Saturday, July 14, 8:30 p.m. Dr. Peter Brown began his digital slide presentation, “Orbital Debris,” around 8:45 p.m. RASC London Centre member Richard Gibbens was among those listening to the presentation. There were 23 visitors recorded at 9:53 p.m. with 3 more arrivals bringing the number to 26; however the 9:25 p.m. count was recorded as 28.