Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, August 6th, 2016

Clear skies greeted an estimated 120 visitors to the Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, August 6th, 2016, 8:30 p.m. Professor Stan Metchev made 3 presentations of his digital slide presentation “Shadows in the Dark: The Mysterious Comets of the Outer Solar System.” Some 90 visitors attended the presentations, including 55 visitors for the first presentation, 15 for the second and 20 for the third presentation. Since a number of people did not attend the presentations or arrived after they were over, the estimated number is close to 120 visitors.

Graduate student Viraja Khatu was telescope operator in the dome and, together with Physics and Astronomy staff member Henry Leparskas, directed the big 25.4cm refractor (28mm Meade Super Wide Angle eyepiece, 157X) towards Jupiter early in the evening, using celestial coordinates provided by the software “Starry Night Pro” on the observatory’s computer. They later showed visitors Saturn in the 25.4cm refractor, using the 17mm Nagler eyepiece (258X). Henry also looked up the Web site “CalSky” to obtain the transit time for Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and the transit and occultation times for the Galilean moons, although seeing conditions low in the western sky made these phenomena unobservable.

RASC London Centre was represented by Paul Kerans, Bob Duff, Tricia Colvin, Mark Tovey, Steve Imrie and Everett Clark; and Heather MacIsaac, who arrived later, around 10:00 p.m. On the roof patio outside the dome, Henry Leparskas showed a few visitors the 4-day-past-new crescent Moon through the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian, using the17mm Nagler eyepiece (66X)—which was soon swapped out for use with the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome. Steve Imrie took over the 25.4cm Dobsonian, showing visitors Mars and Saturn, using the 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece (89X), and again using the 6mm Ortho eyepiece (186X).

Henry Leparskas, Bob Duff and Everett Clark took turns operating the observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain for the evening. Henry began by showing visitors Saturn through the 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain, using the 18mm Radian eyepiece (111X). When Bob took over, he swapped in the 15mm Sky-Watcher UltraWide eyepiece together with the CEMAX 2X Barlow lens—borrowed from the observatory’s 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope—in the 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain, for a total magnification of 266X. Everett later took over operation of the Schmidt-Cassegrain.

Paul Kerans set up his 9.25-inch (23.5cm) Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain (Sky-Watcher EQ6 mount) in the Alumni / Thompson Parking Lot on the south side of the Cronyn Observatory and showed visitors the crescent Moon, Saturn, the Ring Nebula (M57), globular cluster M13 and the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), using his 21mm Ethos eyepiece (112X).

Downstairs in the “Black Room” Tricia Colvin operated the “Transit Demo” model—demonstrating the transit detection method for finding extra-solar planets. Mark Tovey gave tours of the historic “Period Room,” which featured the “Sotellunium” mechanical eclipse demonstration model and Dr. H. R. Kingston’s brass refractor telescope.

The visitors were gone by around 11:00 p.m. after a very enjoyable evening of astronomy.