Cronyn Observatory Open House, Saturday, June 15th, 2013

Mostly cloudy skies greeted visitors to the Cronyn Observatory Open House, Saturday, June 15th, 2013, 8:30 p.m. Faculty member Dr. Jan Cami helped graduate student Neil Bhatt set up a spectroscopy demonstration using 3 gas discharge lamps on a table at the front of the lecture room. Neil made his digital slide presentation, “The Mysterious Case of the Light Thieves.” After his slide presentation Neil invited people to the front of the room where they put on spectroscopy glasses (with diffraction gratings) and viewed the spectra of the gas discharge lamps, including the bright red H-alpha spectral line of the glowing hydrogen gas lamp—the very same spectral line found in emission nebula.

Graduate student Wayne Oswald was crowd manager. The audience consisted of 64 people by 8:51 p.m. and 88 visitors were counted by the end of the evening. Jan signed the notebooks of some 15—20 students from John Paul II Secondary School, who were there for an assignment.

RASC London Centre was represented by Dale Armstrong, Everett Clark and Bob Duff. Jan gave Bob the newly acquired 2-inch and 1 ¼-inch Baader Neutral Density filters to be used with the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome and the Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. Everett opened the box, gave Jan the invoice and tested the 2-inch filter by installing it on the 32mm Erfle eyepiece and putting it into the diagonal of the 25.4cm refractor.

Dave McCarter had revised and printed 400 copies of the RASC London Centre pamphlets and Bob placed 2 packages (80 pamphlets each) of these in the drawer of the sky atlas display case in the dome. Jan also gave Everett a pack of small business size cards promoting the Cronyn Observatory Summer and Winter Public Nights as well as Exploring the Stars. These were also put in the drawer for easy access.

Everett and Dale set up the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian and the Observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade 2080/LX3 Schmidt-Cassegrain. Dale remained with the Schmidt-Cassegrain throughout the evening and showed visitors the one-day-prior to first quarter Moon and Saturn using the 20mm Plossl (100X) eyepieces. Bob spent most of the evening with the 25.4cm Dobsonian, using the 17mm Nagler (66X) and later the 12.5mm Ortho (89X) eyepieces to show visitors the Moon, viewed occasionally through clouds, and Saturn. Several visitors also viewed the stars Spica (at one small boy’s request) and Vega.

Everett spent the evening with the 25.4cm refractor in the dome, showing visitors the Moon, using the 32mm Erfle (137X) eyepiece, and then Saturn, using the 18mm Tele Vue Nagler (244X) eyepiece. Everett gave out 2 “Star Finder” planispheres to one family and a “Moon Gazers’ Guide” card to a young boy.

Jan talked to the visitors in the dome and called people’s attention to an ISS pass, briefly viewed in the northeast around 10:20 p.m. Increasing clouds and a hint of possible rain initiated closing the Cronyn around 10:45 p.m. It was a great evening with a slide presentation and demonstration of spectroscopy, as well as observing with telescopes, despite the clouds.

Bob Duff
Higher Education Liaison
RASC London Centre