Cronyn Observatory Open House, Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Hazy clouds gave way to clear skies for visitors to the Cronyn Observatory Open House, Saturday, April 28th, 7:00 p.m. Graduate students Robin Wing and Emily McCullough were in charge for the evening with Robin making the digital slide presentation, Our Solar System, to the first group of 23 visitors (17 adults and 6 children) in the lecture room.

A few more arrived later and went upstairs into the dome. Emily directed the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome, with the 32mm Erfle (137X) and later the 28mm Meade Super Wide Angle (157X) eyepieces installed. During the course of the evening people viewed the Moon, Venus, Mars and Saturn.

Emily and RASC London Centre member Bob Duff also set up the Observatory’s 20.3cm Meade 2080/LX3 Schmidt-Cassegrain with its 12.5mm Orthoscopic eyepiece (160X). They first checked the alignment of the 8X50mm finder using the weathervane on the roof of the Engineering building and tested the clamps and slow motion controls on the drive base. Then Bob directed the Schmidt-Cassegrain towards the one-day-prior-to first quarter Moon for a sharp pleasing image at 160X!

Bob had brought his 12-volt Panasonic rechargeable battery and he now plugged in the Schmidt-Cassegrains’s power adapter and the red light on the drive base lit up with the telescope tracking in right ascension!

Bob also set up the 25.4cm Dobsonian on the roof patio with the 17mm Nagler (67X). RASC London Centre member Adam Priestap-Suttis and his father, David, arrived and set up his 20.3cm Sky-Watcher Dobsonian. Later they were joined by RASC London Centre member Dave McCarter. In all there were now 3 amateur telescopes. Bob showed visitors the Moon through the Schmidt-Cassegrain and later Emily directed this telescope towards Saturn for a very pleasing view (160X). Bob alternated between the Schmidt-Cassegrain and the 25.4cm Dobsonian for most of the evening and even watched over Adam’s 20.3cm Dobsonian for a while, with the help of Adam’s father, David. In the 25.4cm Dobsonian, Bob showed people the Moon, Venus, Mars and Saturn using the 17mm Nagler (67X) and, mostly, the 6mm Orthoscopic (190.5X) eyepieces.

When Dave McCarter arrived people were getting a wonderful view of the crescent Venus in the big 25.4cm refractor and, with the crowd’s permission, he redirected it towards Saturn. Several girls competed to be first in line. After everyone had a good look at Saturn, with several moons visible, he turned the scope towards Mars, which looked good in the 28mm Meade Super Wide Angle eyepiece (157X). Dave noticed that when the front window was open and the door to the stairwell closed, the seeing remarkably improved.

Most everybody was gone by 10:00 p.m. and Emily, Bob and Dave closed down the Cronyn Observatory around 10:20 p.m., after a very successful evening of observing and answering many questions. There were perhaps 50 people, including children and adults, for this Open House.