Partly cloudy, hazy skies and cold temperature greeted 49 visitors to the Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, January 10th, 2015, 7:00 p.m. Graduate student Shannon Hicks made her digital slide presentation “Exploring Comets” and answered questions. Graduate students Parshati Patel and Emily McCullough operated the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome.
RASC London Centre was represented by Tricia Colvin and Bob Duff. RASC London Centre member Richard Gibbens was also there and listened to the slide lecture. When everybody arrived upstairs in the dome Parshati invited Bob to give a talk on the history of the Cronyn Observatory and the technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor. He also explained the 2 clocks on the east wall of the dome and the difference between Standard and Sidereal Time. Ice prevented the dome from being fully opened and it was difficult locate objects with the big 25.4cm refractor (52mm Erfle eyepiece, 84X) and so Emily and Parshati began by showing visitors various stars including the giant red star Betelgeuse and explained how stars could have different colours. Shannon also searched for Comet Lovejoy with binoculars, but without success in the hazy sky.
Finally, Emily directed the big 25.4cm refractor towards the communications tower in south London, with Bob centering one of the red lights on the tower in the telescope’s field of view. The visitors were pleased with the views through the big telescope, despite the cold. Everybody was gone by 9:00 p.m. after an enjoyable and interesting evening of astronomy.