Cronyn Observatory Open House, Saturday, June 8th, 2013

Partly cloudy skies greeted visitors to the Cronyn Observatory Open House, Saturday, June 8th, 2013, 8:30 p.m. Graduate student Robbie Halonen made his digital slide presentations, “The Search for Another Earth.” Graduate students Jeff Bailey and David Stock operated the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome and managed the crowd, respectively. RASC London Centre member Dale Armstrong set up the Observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade 2080/LX3 Schmidt-Cassegrain on the roof patio outside the dome.

Robbie reported excellent attendance with an estimated 100-120 people, including many high school students who were doing so for a high school assignment. Robbie spoke for perhaps 40 minutes before what Dale described as packed lecture room with people standing inside and about 15 people standing outside the room. Everybody went upstairs afterwards to join people already in the dome where Dale spoke for 30 minutes about the history of the Cronyn and telescopes, and how the observatory worked. The sky did not look promising but began to clear up around 10:00 p.m.

Dale had everybody line up to view Saturn through the Schmidt-Cassegrain, using the 18mm Tele Vue Radian eyepiece (111X). Jeff also showed them Saturn in the big 25.4cm refractor, using the 32mm Erfle eyepiece (137X). After things died down a bit, Dale redirected the Schmidt-Cassegrain towards the double-star Izar. Later still, Robbie came upstairs and found the Ring Nebula (M57) in the 25.4cm refractor.

Dale suggested that the big turnout was partly a function of the London Community News (Thursday, June 6th, 2013) front page picture and caption / news item, showing the boy looking through the big 25.4cm refractor in the Cronyn Observatory. There were an estimated 110 and everybody left by around 11:30 p.m. after a very good night of astronomy.

Bob Duff
Higher Education Liaison
RASC London Centre