Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Monday, November 14th, 2016

Partly cloudy skies with hazy clouds greeted some 500 visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Monday, November 14th, 2016. The Public Night was scheduled for 7:00—9:00 p.m. However, graduate student Dilini Subasinghe opened the door early, after directing the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome towards Mars at 6:30 p.m. She welcomed a line-up of visitors, there to see the unusually large full Moon—or “supermoon”—with the closest lunar perigee (356,509 km) since 1948.

There were 55 people counted by Dilini at 6:50 p.m. and over 100 when RASC London member Bob Duff arrived at 7:10 p.m. The line of visitors extended from up the stairs into the dome to all the way back along the walkway to the observatory, nearly to the sundial beside the traffic circle. There were an estimated 500 visitors by the end of the evening.

RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Paul Kerans, Charlene Kerans, Dale Armstrong, Mark Tovey and Bob Duff. Graduate student Kendra Kellogg was telescope operator in the dome and showed a few visitors Mars through the 25.4cm refractor, using the 28mm Meade Super Wide Angle eyepiece (157X). Kendra moved the 25.4cm refractor to the bright star Vega at 7:00 p.m. when Mars was obscured by clouds.

On the roof patio outside the dome Paul Kerans set up his 9.25-inch (23.5cm) Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain (Vixen equatorial mount) and showed visitors the Moon, the Owl Cluster (NGC457) and the planet Uranus (21mm Ethos eyepiece, 112X).

Bob Duff began by showing visitors the Moon through the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X) but soon took over the observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain set up by Dale Armstrong and Everett Clark. Charlene Kerans took over the 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X) from Bob and spent most of the evening showing visitors the Moon. Dale set up his 80mm Vernonscope refractor on the front lawn of the observatory to show the Moon to the visitors who were lined up on the walkway. A 32mm Konig eyepiece yielded 16X and provided a 4 degree field of view, nicely setting off the Moon and clouds in Dale’s 80mm Vernonscope.

The Moon was very bright in the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain, through the 26mm Plossl eyepiece (77X), and Bob swapped in the 20mm Plossl (100X), then the 12.5mm Ortho (160X) and finally the 20mm Plossl eyepiece (100X) again to reduce glare and make a more comfortable view for the visitors.

Mark Tovey welcomed 28 visitors to the historic “Period Room,” which featured the “Sotellunium” mechanical eclipse demonstration model and Dr. H. R. Kingston’s brass refractor telescope. Mark was dressed in 1940s period costume.

The evening began with the Cronyn Observatory door opening early at 6:30 p.m. and ended with the last visitors departing around 10:30 p.m. It was an unexpected and enjoyable evening of lunar observing, thanks to the unusually large full Moon—or “supermoon.”