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

The school mid-winter “March Break” (March 12th—16th) may have accounted for the unusual number of 132 visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Weekday Public Night, Monday, March 12th, 2018, 8:00 p.m. Graduate student Dan Hatfield welcomed visitors who soon filled the lecture room. RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Bob Duff and Peter Jedicke.

Normally, there is no slide presentation for a Cronyn Observatory Weekday Public Night. However, since cloudy skies seemed to rule out observing and given the large number of people, Everett suggested a slide presentation. Dan presented the digital slide presentation “Our Solar System” to a full lecture room and fielded questions. Peter counted 70 visitors by 8:18 p.m., including 64 in the lecture room and 6 in the dome. Peter counted 132 visitors in total by the end of the evening.

Everett made ready the big 25.4cm refractor (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 137X) in the dome and Bob directed it towards the double star Castor. Everett also set up the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian on the observation deck, with Bob locating Castor in the 17mm Nagler eyepiece (66X) field of view. However, since Castor was already being viewed through the 25.4cm refractor, Everett suggested another object be viewed through the 25.4cm Dobsonian. Throughout the evening Everett showed visitors Castor through the 25.4cm refractor and Bob showed them the Pleiades (M45) star cluster through the 25.4cm Dobsonian.

After giving the slide presentation, Dan went downstairs into the “Black Room” and gave several demonstrations of the “Transit Demo” model—showing how the transit detection method worked for finding extra-solar planets—as well as the “Spectroscopy Demo,” with the visitors putting on diffraction grating glasses to view the spectra of 4 gas discharge lamps set out on the table, including: hydrogen, helium, neon and mercury. Dan also gave a tour 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. The“1940s Period Room,” were designed by RASC London Centre member Mark Tovey.

Bob answered many questions as he showed visitors the Pleaides through 25.4cm Dobsonian and also gave a tour of the “1940s Period Room” to a couple of visitors towards the end of the evening. The visitors were gone by around 10:00 p.m., after an enjoyable evening learning about astronomy and observing through telescopes in the cloudy, later clearing sky.