Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, February 24th, 2018

An overcast sky with thin hazy clouds greeted some 63 visitors to the Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, February 24th, 2018, 7:00 p.m. Graduate student Viraja Khatu made 2 presentations of the digital slide presentation “Galaxies.” There were 50 visitors in the lecture room for Viraja’s first slide presentation, as counted by RASC London Centre member Bob Duff at 7:22 p.m. There were just 13 people for Viraja’s second presentation. In all, there were some 63 visitors for the evening.

RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Heather MacIsaac, Henry Leparskas, Bob Duff, Mark Tovey, Edith Tovey and Dale Armstrong. Henry made ready the big 25.4cm refractor (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 258X) in the dome and Everett supervised as visitors viewed the one-day-past-first quarter Moon—visible through thin, hazy, moving clouds. On the observation deck outside the dome, Bob showed them the Moon through the London Centre’s home-built 30.5cm Dobsonian (Meade 28mm Super Wide Angle eyepiece, 54X) and Heather showed them the Moon through her Celestron NexStar 90SLT 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain (32mm Plossl eyepiece, 39X).

Downstairs in the “Black Room” graduate student Jeff Vankerkhove gave demonstrations of the “Transit Demo” model—showing how the transit detection method worked for finding extra-solar planets, as well as demonstrations of the “Spectroscopy Demo” with the visitors putting on diffraction grating glasses to view the spectra of 4 gas discharge lamps set out on the table, including: hydrogen, helium, neon and mercury. Mark Tovey gave tours of the historic “1940s Period Room,” a recreation of Dr. H. R. Kingston’s 1940 office, with his brass refractor and the Sotellunium—a mechanical eclipse demonstration model built by W. G. Colgrove—on display. Mark also showed them the “1967 Period Room,” recreating the early control room of the Elginfield Observatory to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation—Canada 150. Edith Tovey assisted with the “Period Rooms” tours. Both “Period Rooms” were designed by Mark Tovey.

The visitors were gone by around 9:00 p.m., after an enjoyable evening learning about astronomy and observing the Moon through telescopes, despite the thin, hazy clouds.