Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Monday, February 12th, 2018

A clear sky with some hazy clouds greeted some 50—60 visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Weekday Public Night, Monday, February 12th, 2018, 7:00 p.m. Graduate student Viraja Khatu and Professor Jan Cami were there early to greet a video team from Rogers TV, who arrived around 6:30 p.m. RASC London Centre members Everett Clark, Henry Leparskas and Mark Tovey were also there around 6:00 p.m., joined shortly thereafter by Bob Duff, and later in the evening, Edith Tovey. Since there was no slide presentation, visitors simply went upstairs into the dome and downstairs for demonstrations in the “Black Room” and tours of the “Period Rooms.” Viraja was interviewed by the Rogers TV team (cameraman and lady interviewer) in the lecture room and Bob was later interviewed by 2 journalism students.

Viraja, Everett, Henry and Jan made ready the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome and set up the London Centre’s home-built 30.5 Dobsonian on the observation deck. They used the hour angle and declination setting circles on the 25.4cm refractor with celestial coordinates provided by the Starry Night Pro software on the computer to locate Uranus, which appeared as a blurry blue-green disk in the 17mm Nagler eyepiece (258X). They also showed visitors the Double Cluster (NGC869 884) through the 25.4cm refractor, using the 52mm Erfle eyepiece (84X), and the double star Gamma Andromedae (Almach), using the 17mm Nagler (258X) and Meade 28mm Super Wide Angle (157X) eyepieces. Outside on the observation deck Bob showed visitors the Orion Nebula (M42) and Henry showed them the Pleiades (M45) star cluster through the 30.5 Dobsonian (Meade 28mm SWA eyepiece, 54X).

Downstairs in the “Black Room” Professor Jan Cami gave 3 demonstrations of the “Transit Demo” model—demonstrating the transit detection method for finding extra-solar planets. Jan also gave 3 demonstrations of the “Spectroscopy Demo,” with the visitors putting on the diffraction grating glasses to view the spectra of 4 gas discharge lamps set out on the table, including: hydrogen, helium, neon and mercury. Mark Tovey gave tours of 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. Edith Tovey assisted with the “Period Rooms” tours. Both “Period Rooms” were designed by Mark Tovey

There was an ISS pass observed at 6:45—6:52 p.m. (18:45:58—18:52:13), travelling west northwest—south southeast, reaching a maximum altitude of 43 degrees above the southwest horizon at 6:49 p.m. (18:49:06). There was also an Iridium flare (magnitude 7.9) at altitude 43 degrees above the south southeast horizon at 7:10 p.m. (19:10:11)*

Everett gave out 2 “Star Finder” planispheres and one “Moon Gazers’ Guide” cards to interested visitors. The visitors were gone by around 9:00 p.m., after an enjoyable evening learning about astronomy and observing through telescopes.

*Information concerning “ISS – Visible Passes” and “Iridium Flares” was found using the coordinates for London, Ontario, on the “Heavens Above” Web site: