Cronyn Observatory Public Night and Special Event, Saturday, May 19th, 2018

Cloudy, later partly cloudy skies with some rain greeted 19 visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night and Special Event, Saturday, May 19th, 2018, 8:30 p.m. The occasion was the opening of the W.G. Colgrove Exhibit in the basement of the observatory. RASC London Centre member Mark Tovey presented his digital slide presentation “W. G. Colgrove: Astronomical Model-Maker Extraordinaire.” Graduate student Ben George was “crowd manager,” greeting and counting 19 visitors for the evening.

Professor Jan Cami listened to Mark’s slide presentation and then proceeded downstairs to the “Black Room,” where he gave 2 demonstrations each of the “Transit Demonstration”—using the “Transit Demo” model to show how the transit detection method worked for finding extra-solar planets—and the “Spectroscopy Demonstration,” with the visitors putting on diffraction grating glasses to view the spectra of 4 gas discharge lamps, including hydrogen, helium, neon and mercury.

Mark gave a tour of the newly created W. G. Colgrove Exhibit” and the historic“1940s Period Room,” a recreation of Dr. H. R. Kingston’s 1940 office, with his brass refractor and the Sotellunium—a mechanical eclipse demonstration model built by W. G. Colgrove—on display. Mark also showed them the “1967 Period Room,” recreating the early control room of the Elginfield Observatory to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation—Canada 150. Both “Period Rooms” and the W. G. Colgrove Exhibit” were designed by RASC London Centre member Mark Tovey.

RASC London Centre was well represented by Everett Clark, Henry Leparskas, Heather MacIsaac, Bob Duff and Dale Armstrong, as well as Mark Tovey. Unattached RASC member Paul Kerans was also there. There was also a high school student volunteer. Graduate student Viraja Khatu was telescope operator and directed the big 25.4cm refractor (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 137X) in the dome towards Venus. With some assistance from Dale and Bob, Viraja directed the 25.4cm refractor towards Jupiter which was periodically obscured by clouds in the southeast. Dale was able to get a brief glimpse of Jupiter through the 25.4cm refractor before it was obscured by clouds.

Everett set up the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X) on the observation deck and Paul directed it towards the 4-day-past-new crescent Moon. Jupiter was also viewed in the 25.4cm Dobsonian with the 17mm Nagler eyepiece (66X), with Bob swapping in the 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece (89X) for a better view.

Everett set up the observatory’s Meade 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Casegrain (12.5mm Ortho eyepiece, 160X) inside the dome so as to view the communications tower in south London through the door to the observation deck. Heather MacIsaac also set up her Celestron NexStar 90SLT 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain (32mm Plossl eyepiece, 39X) so as to view the communications tower through the door to the observation deck. Jan and Everett invited visitors to “walk on the Moon and Mars” by stepping on small meteorite samples in plastic cases emplaced in round blocks of wood. These round wooden blocks, containing the Moon and Mars meteorite sample display cases, were made by Henry Leparskas with wood salvaged from the renovations to the darkroom in the dome, following the burst frozen water pipe and flood on January 9th, 2018.

Paul showed people his meteorites and invited them to walk on his Moon meteorite sample, enclosed in a plastic case and wooden block. Everett gave several visitors “Star Finder” planispheres. The visitors were gone by around 11:00 p.m. after an enjoyable evening learning some of the history of the observatory and viewing through telescopes, despite the partly cloudy sky.