Cronyn Observatory 75th Anniversary Celebration with Solar Observing, October 25th, 2015

Partly cloudy skies greeted visitors to the second day of Western University’s Hume Cronyn Memorial Observatory 75th Anniversary celebration, Sunday, October 25th, 2015, 2:00—5:00 p.m. The agenda included another re-enactment of the 1940 opening ceremony, followed by tours of the Observatory by Professor Jan Cami. There was solar observing through filtered telescopes on the Observatory’s roof patio outside the dome.

The event began around 2:20 p.m. with introductory remarks by Professor Jan Cami and was followed by another re-enactment of the 1940 opening ceremony. Since RASC Toronto Centre President and David Dunlap Observatory Committee Chair Paul Mortfield had departed for Toronto, RASC Archivist, Randall Rosenfeld read Dr. Clarence Chant’s original speech. Once again, RASC London Centre’s Mark Tovey read Dr. H. R. Kingston’s speech complete with “lantern slides” shown on a digital projector. Mark was, once again dressed in period costume complete with H. R. Kingston’s original top hat! There were some 27 people present for this presentation, including Physics and Astronomy Undergraduate Assistant Keri Knox and staff member Henry Leparskas; and RASC London Centre members Dale Armstrong (photography), Peter and Dianne Jedicke, Mark Tovey and Bob Duff. 

Professor Jan Cami conducted 4 tours totalling 60 visitors of the Cronyn Observatory. Other faculty members present included Professors Sarah Gallagher and Peter Brown. Department of Philosophy Professor Emeritus Howard Plotkin was also there. Graduate students Dilini Subasinghe and Parshati Patel were there, along with Tony Martinez who acted as a guide for the astronomical instruments in the basement. Tricia Colvin served as a costumed guide in the “period room” along with Mark Tovey, dressed in period costume as H. R. Kingston and wearing H. R. Kingston’s top hat. 

There were 3 telescopes set up for solar observing on the roof patio outside the dome. Undergraduate student William Hyland showed visitors sunspots on the Sun through the Observatory’s (unpowered) 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain (26mm Plossl eyepiece, 77X) with a Kendrick Astro Baader film solar filter. He had some assistance from Dale Armstrong. RASC London Centre member Paul Kerans set up the Observatory’s 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope (18mm Plossl eyepiece, 44X) on its EQ5 mount and showed visitors solar prominences on the Sun. Paul also showed visitor sunspots through his own 80mm Sky-Watcher refractor (21mm Ethos eyepiece, 28.6X) and glass solar filter. Professor Jan Cami showed some visitors solar prominences on the Sun through the 90mm Coronado. Bob Duff later took over showing visitors solar prominences through the 90mm Coronado while Paul operated his 80mm Sky-Watcher refractor. There were good views of solar prominences on the edge of the Sun as well as surface detail in the 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope. The broadband white light filters on the other 2 telescopes showed excellent views of sunspots.

There were perhaps 60 people who took part in the tours conducted by Professor Jan Cami and quite a few visitors viewed the Sun through the 3 solar filtered telescopes. The Observatory was finally closed down beginning around 5:00 p.m., bringing to an end what was truly a fitting celebration of the Cronyn Observatory’s 75th Anniversary.

For a more complete account of the Cronyn Observatory 75th Anniversary, October 24th / 25th, 2015, please watch for a planned article to appear in the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.