Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, August 12th, 2017

Clear skies greeted some 206 visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, August 12th, 2017, 8:30 p.m. Professor Jan Cami made 2 presentations of his digital slide presentation The Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017 and fielded questions.  Graduate student Sivayini Kandeepan was “crowd manager” and counted 130 visitors by 9:20 p.m. and 200 by 10:39 p.m. There were 6 more visitors, from RASC London Centre member Paul Kerans’ telescope outside, who accompanied London Centre member Bob Duff into the dome at 11:08 p.m. for a total count of 206 visitors.

RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Heather MacIsaac, Dale Armstrong, Mark Tovey, Edith Tovey, Bob Duff, Steve Imrie, Paul Kerans, Peter Jedicke and Steve Gauthier. Graduate student Amanda DeSouza was telescope operator and showed the visitors Saturn through the 25.4cm refractor (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 258X). Amanda later directed the 25.4cm refractor to show the visitors the double star Mizar and nearby star Alcor (258X).

Downstairs in the “Black Room” Peter Jedicke gave 5 demonstrations—“Eclipse Demos”—with his “Eclipse Observing Kit” on how to observe the solar eclipse safely by putting 3 layers of Mylar film over the objective lens of his 50mm Galileoscope mounted on a camera tripod. Peter also showed the visitors his pinhole projection shoebox and how to use a mirror to project the Sun’s image on a wall. Mark Tovey, gave tours of the historic “1940s Period Room,” a recreation of Dr. H. R. Kingston’s 1940 office—featuring the “Sotellunium” mechanical eclipse demonstration model made by Rev. W. G. Colgrove, and Dr. H. R. Kingston’s brass refractor telescope—and 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” were designed by Mark Tovey.

There were 4 amateur telescopes set up for the evening, including 3 telescopes on the observation deck and one just outside the observatory. On the observation deck, Steve Imrie operated the London Centre’s home-built 30.5cm Dobsonian, showing visitors Jupiter and Saturn, using the 18mm Radian eyepiece (83X), later swapping in Steve Gauthier’s 9mm Nagler (166X) for a better view of Saturn. Steve Imrie also showed visitors the Ring Nebula (M57) and globular cluster M13 through the 30.5cm Dobsonian (83X).

Heather MacIsaac showed visitors Jupiter and Saturn through her Celestron NexStar 90SLT 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain (17mm Plossl eyepiece, 73.5X). Heather later used Steve Gauthier’s 7mm Nagler (178.6X) and 9mm Nagler (139X) eyepieces to show better views of Saturn through her 90mm Maksutov.

Dale Armstrong operated the observatory’s Meade 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain showing visitors Saturn, using the Sky-Watcher 15mm UltraWide eyepiece together with the CEMAX 2X Barlow lens (266X). (The CEMAX 2X Barlow lens from the observatory’s 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope.) Dale later showed visitors the yellow and blue double-star Albireo through the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain, using the Sky-Watcher 15mm UltraWide eyepiece (133X).

On the south side of the observatory, Paul Kerans set up his Celestron 9.25-inch (23.5cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain on a Vixen equatorial mount and showed visitors Arcturus, Saturn and Jupiter, using a 21mm eyepiece (112X); and globular cluster M13, the Ring Nebula (M57), NGC 457 (Owl Cluster) and Albireo, using a Sky-Watcher LE 15mm eyepiece (156.6X); and the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) using the 21mm eyepiece (112X).

There were 10 solar eclipse glasses distributed to interested visitors (4 and 6 solar eclipse glasses distributed by Everett Clark and Bob Duff, respectively). Observing continued until 11:20 p.m. under unusually clear skies before the observatory was closed down after a very enjoyable evening of astronomy.