Cloudy skies with some light snow greeted 42 visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, February 25th, 2017, 7:00 p.m. Graduate student Viraja Khatu presented her digital slide presentation “Our Home Galaxy: The Milky Way” before an audience of 35 visitors (including some 12 children) and fielded questions. There were 2 other visitors who went directly upstairs into the dome. Graduate student Kendra Kellogg directed 5 more visitors, who arrived after the slide lecture, directly upstairs into the dome which remained closed due to weather conditions. This brought the total to 42 visitors for the evening.
RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Heather MacIsaac, Mark Pickett, Bob Duff, Dale Armstrong and Patrick Whelan. Everett Clark set up the observatory’s 2 Meade 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes inside the dome. He set up one 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain (26mm Plossl eyepiece, 77X) to view out the door towards the red lights on the communications tower in south London. The other 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain (20mm Plossl eyepiece, 100X) he set up without its tripod on the table near the window to show visitors the red light above the north campus buildings. Mark Pickett set up his Antares 90mm (f/11) refractor (8mm—24mm zoom eyepiece) on his Vixen alt-azimuth mount on the roof patio outside the dome and directed so that visitors could view the red light on the construction crane behind the Engineering building.
When everybody arrived upstairs in the dome, Bob Duff gave a brief talk about the history of the observatory and some of the technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome, as well as the Cassegrain reflector telescope and Schmidt camera piggy-backed on the 25.4cm refractor. He also called their attention to the 2 clocks on the east wall and explained the difference between Standard and Sidereal Time. London Centre members talked to the visitors and answered questions as they looked though the telescopes. Heather MacIsaac and Everett Clark distributed 10 “Star Finder” plansipheres to interested visitors.
Patrick Whelan arrived around 8:00—8:15 p.m. and in an informal ceremony in the dome presented Heather MacIsaac with a 10-inch (25.4cm, f/4.8) mirror, mirror cell, and accompanying 2.1-inch secondary mirror and spider, all donated to the London Centre by Matt Neima. Patrick also brought a 48-inch long section of 12-inch diameter Sonotube and mentioned a Dobsonian mount left at home.
With the visitors gone Dale Armstrong set up his camera and tripod to take some wide-angle pictures in the darkened dome with an off-camera flash, including several with the London Centre members and Kendra in front of the big 25.4cm refractor. The observatory was closed down a little after 9:05 p.m. after an enjoyable evening for the visitors, learning about astronomy and telescopes.