Cloudy skies with occasional light rain greeted some 42 visitors to the Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, August 27th, 2016, 8:30 p.m. Professor Sarah Gallagher made her digital slide presentation “The Wonderful Thing about Transits” and fielded questions. Graduate student Viraja Khatu greeted and directed visitors. There were 38 visitors for the slide presentation and with 4 more arrivals who did not attend the presentation the total was 42 visitors for the evening.
Downstairs in the “Black Room” Professor Jan Cami showed visitors the “Transit Demo” model—demonstrating the transit detection method for finding extra-solar planets. Physics and Astronomy Department staff member Henry Leparskas gave tours of the historic “Period Room,” which featured the “Sotellunium” mechanical eclipse demonstration model and Dr. H. R. Kingston’s brass refractor telescope.
RASC London Centre was represented by Bob Duff, Peter Jedicke, Paul Kerans, Dale Armstrong and Steve Gauthier. Professor Robert Cockcroft was telescope operator and made ready the big 25.4cm refractor (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 258X). Since rain ruled out opening the dome, Dale Armstrong gave a telescope talk, explaining the difference between a refractor and reflector telescope. Dale demonstrated the shutter on the Schmidt camera and called people’s attention to the Cassegrain reflector—both piggy-backed on the big 25.4cm refractor. Dale also invited visitors to view through the observatory’s Meade 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain (26mm Plossl eyepiece, 77X), set up on the table and directed through the open window towards the red light above the campus building to the north.
The visitors also viewed the red and white lights on the communications tower in south London through the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 35X) set up just inside the roof patio door. Paul Kerans showed visitors his iron-nickel meteorite, as well as samples of Moon and Mars meteorites in small display cases. Paul invited children to “walk on the Moon” with the Moon meteorite sample display case placed in a wooden block.
Peter Jedicke, Steve Gauthier and Bob Duff answered questions and 2 “Star Finder” planispheres, 2 “Moon Gazers’ Guide” cards and 2 “Getting Started in Astronomy” (RASC, SkyNews ) pamphlets, along with RASC London pamphlets, were given to interested visitors. Everybody was gone by 11:00 p.m., after an interesting evening learning about astronomy, despite the cloudy, rainy weather.