Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, August 26th, 2017

Clear skies greeted some 120 visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, August 26th, 2017, 8:30 p.m. Professor Robert Cockcroft made 2 presentations of his digital slide presentation “The Final Mission of the Cassini Spacecraft – Update” and fielded questions. RASC London Centre member Bob Duff counted 39 people in the lecture room at 8:49 p.m. and some 48 more in the dome, stairway and on the observation deck by 9:00 p.m. There were 16 people for the second slide presentation. There were some 120 visitors for the evening.

Downstairs in the “Black Room” graduate student Richard Bloch gave demonstrations of the “Transit Demo” model—demonstrating the transit detection method for finding extra-solar planets—and the “Spectroscopy Demo,” inviting the visitors to put on diffraction grating glasses and view the spectra of 4 gas discharge lamps set up on the table, including: hydrogen, helium, neon and mercury. RASC London Centre member Mark Tovey, gave tours of the historic “1940s Period Room,” a recreation of Dr. H. R. Kingston’s 1940 office 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.

RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Henry Leparskas, Dale Armstrong, Paul Kerans, Bob Duff, Steve Imrie, Peter Jedicke, Steve Gauthier, Dave McCarter, Mark Tovey and Edith Tovey, and new youth member Jacob Renders and his father. London Centre member Richard Gibbens was also there and listened to the slide lecture. Henry Leparskas helped undergraduate student Edith Yeung, who was telescope operator for the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome, locate Jupiter in the bright early evening sky using hour angle and declination coordinates from the Starry Night Pro software on the computer. Edith Yeung and Everett Clark, showed visitors Jupiter, the 5-day-past-new crescent Moon, Saturn and the double star Mizar, and nearby Alcor, through the 25.4cm refractor, using Meade 28mm Super Wide Angle eyepiece (157X)

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 and Steve Gauthier operated the London Centre’s home-built 30.5cm Dobsonian, showing visitors the Moon, Saturn, the Ring Nebula (M57), the yellow and blue double-star Albireo and the Dumbbell Nebula (M27), using the 18mm Radian eyepiece (83X). Dale Armstrong set up the observatory’s Meade 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain and showed visitors Saturn, using the 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece (160X), and later Steve Gauthier’s 7mm Nagler eyepiece (286X).

Jacob Renders and his father set up their Bushnell Voyager 114mm (f/8) Newtonian reflector telescope on its alt-azimuth mount and showed visitors the Moon and Saturn (12.5mm eyepiece, 72X), and the stars Arcturus and Altair, using the observatory’s Sky-Watcher 15mm UltraWide eyepiece (60X). The 114mm Newtonian also gave good views of Saturn, using 4mm eyepiece (225X) and 8mm eyepiece (112.5X).

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 the Moon, M57 and globular cluster M13, using his 28mm eyepiece (84X), and the Moon again using his Sky-Watcher LE 20mm eyepiece (117.5X).

Some of the visitors on the observation deck were able to see an Iridium flare visible in the north at 8:37 p.m. (See: Iridium Flares for London, Ontario, on Heavens Above: ) The last visitors left the observatory around 11:15 p.m. and some RASC London members remained to continue observing on this clear night.