Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

Mostly cloudy skies with some later clearing greeted visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, August 2nd, 2014, 8:30 p.m. Graduate student Neil Bhatt made his digital slide presentation “Resonance: Solar System Harmony” and fielded questions. Undergraduate student Nathalie Thibert was crowd manager and counted visitors, there being some 37 people by 9:17 p.m., with an estimated total of 60 visitors by the end of the evening.

Graduate student Shannon Hicks was telescope operator for the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome. RASC London Centre was represented by Bob Duff, Dale Armstrong and Mark Tovey, and they were later joined by Peter Jedicke. London Centre member Everett Clark arrived at the end of the evening and helped close down the Observatory. Shannon made ready the big 25.4cm refractor (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 137X) and Bob directed it towards the communications tower in south London. Shannon soon redirected the 25.4cm refractor towards the two-day-prior-to First Quarter Moon, occasionally visible in the hazy clouds, and then Saturn. Shannon later swapped in the 18mm Radian eyepiece (244X) to show people Arcturus through the 25.4cm refractor.

On the roof patio outside the dome Dale operated the Observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade 2080/LX3 Schmidt-Cassegrain, showing people the Moon, the communications tower, the TV screen visible through the windows in the Western Student Recreation Centre, and Arcturus using the 26mm Plossl eyepiece (77X). Dale also showed people Saturn in the Schmidt-Cassegrain, using the 15mm Sky-Watcher UltraWide eyepiece (133X) and then the 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece together with the 2X Barlow lens (320X) from the Coronado telescope. Dale finally showed people Mizar and Alcor in the Schmidt-Cassegrain (77X and 320X) and the Double-Double star system Epsilon Lyrae (320X).

Bob operated the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian, showing visitors the wind turbine on the Engineering building, the Moon, Saturn and Arcturus (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X); Saturn again (12.5mm Ortho eyepiece, 89X); and Epsilon Lyrae (6mm Ortho eyepiece, (186X).

Peter called everybody’s attention to an ISS pass (mentioned by Bob as listed on the “Heavens Above, ISS – Visible Passes” Web site) travelling from south-southwest to east, around 10:02—10:08 p.m., reaching a maximum 31 degrees altitude (~10:05 p.m.) and briefly glimpsed before disappearing in the clouds to the south. The visitors were gone by around 11:00 p.m. after a very informative and enjoyable evening of astronomy despite the clouds.