Cronyn Observatory Open House, Saturday, May 4th, 2013

Clear skies with some hazy clouds greeted visitors to the first Saturday evening Summer Open House at the Cronyn Observatory, May 4th, 2013, 8:30—11:00 p.m. Graduate student Parshati Patel made her digital slide presentation, “Eta Aquarids: Shooting Stars from Halley’s Comet,” 3 times during the course of the evening, to groups of visitors.

Upstairs in the dome, Astronomy Faculty member Dr. Jan Cami directed the big 25.4cm refractor towards Jupiter in the western sky, which made a pleasing sight for the visitors through the 18mm Tele Vue Radian eyepiece (244X). He later directed the 25.4cm refractor towards Saturn, rising in the southeast. Physics & Astronomy Department Computer Resource person Henry Leparskas was also there.

RASC London Centre was represented by Dale Armstrong, Steve Imrie, Dave McCarter and Bob Duff. Bob set up the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian on the roof patio with the 17mm Nagler eyepiece (66X), later installing the 8 X 50mm finderscope. Dale and Bob also set up the Observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade 2080/LX3 Schmidt-Cassegrain with the 26mm Plossl eyepiece (77X). Steve set up his Orion SkyQuest 8-inch (20.3cm) Dobsonian between the other 2 telescopes.

Two lady technicians from Rogers Cable TV arrived and videotaped the visitors as they climbed the observing platform to view through the big 25.4cm refractor. They also videotaped people looking through the amateur telescopes on the roof patio and interviewed visitors in the dome.

Dave McCarter arrived as the sky was darkening and announced that the campus police were at the door advising everybody to evacuate the building due to a fire alarm. Fire trucks arrived and 3 firemen and one police officer, accompanied by Jan, searched the building while everybody waited outside. It was apparently a false alarm. The firemen and police officer did get a fine view of Jupiter through the big 25.4cm refractor before leaving the dome.

Everybody went back into the Observatory. Saturn was the principal object of interest in all 3 telescopes on the roof patio. Later in the evening Dale also showed visitors the stars Izar and Mizar and Alcor in the Schmidt-Cassegrain. Dave talked to visitors on the roof patio and showed them Saturn through the 25.4cm Dobsonian.

In all, there were an estimated 60 visitors for the evening, not including the 3 firemen and one police officer who made the fire inspection of the building and viewed Jupiter through the big 25.4cm refractor.

The visitors were gone by around 11:00 p.m. and Jan, Parshati, Henry, Dale, Steve and Bob remained behind to put everything away. Henry took some photographs of the group beside the big 25.4cm refractor with the Schmidt-Cassegrain (minus the tripod) on the floor. It was a very enjoyable evening or astronomy.

Bob Duff
Higher Education Liaison
RASC London Centre