Cronyn Observatory Private Event, Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Generally clear skies greeted 23 visitors (not including 2 infants), mostly adults with some children, for a Private Event at the Cronyn Observatory, Saturday, October 25th, 2014, 6:00 p.m. The family had purchased a star in honour of a deceased relative. Graduate student Neil Bhatt made the digital slide presentation “The Curious Case of the Light Thieves” explaining the spectra of stars, beginning around 6:38 p.m. He followed this with a few slides of the region near Polaris and the constellation Cepheus where the star was located.

Graduate student Dilini Subasinghe supervised in the dome and had received the celestial coordinates for the star from the group in advance. RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Tricia Colvin, Bob Duff and Peter Jedicke. Around 6:00 p.m., prior to the slide presentation, Neil and Everett directed the big 25.4cm refractor (18mm Radian eyepiece, 244X) in the dome towards the location of the star using the celestial coordinates and setting circles. Everett managed to find what was thought to be the star in the sky charting software “Starry Night Pro” using a number Dilini had acquired from the SIMBAD data base by typing in the coordinates. Peter also tried looking for the star in the printed “Atlas Borealis 1950.0” sitting on the display case in the dome in order to show the visitors how astronomers used to look for stars before computers.

Everybody was invited on the roof patio outside the dome as soon as they arrived upstairs to view a bright (magnitude -5.0) Iridium flare at 7:10:58 p.m., altitude 60 degrees in the north northeast. Neil gave a talk about the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome and Peter Jedicke then invited people to ascend the observing ladder and view the general area of the star, which was about 4 degrees from Polaris and in the constellation Cepheus, but too faint to see. Peter began with the 18mm Radian eyepiece (244X) and then swapped in the 28mm Meade Super Wide Angle eyepiece (157X) for a better view through the 25.4cm refractor.

Outside on the roof patio, Tricia Colvin showed the visitors Mars and then Albireo through the RASC London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X). The evening ended with the visitors taking a group photo session in the lecture room. Peter asked Bob to give one little girl a “Star Finder” planisphere and Everett provided some tape it put it together. The visitors were gone by around 8:15 p.m. after an enjoyable and informative evening of astronomy.