Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, January 27th, 2018

A partly cloudy, later clearing sky greeted an estimated 80 visitors to the Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, January 27th, 2018, 7:00 p.m. Graduate student Jeff Vankerkhove made 2 presentations of his digital slide presentation “Why can’t I see any stars tonight?! A look at Earth’s atmosphere and UWO’s role in trying to understand it.” There were 42 visitors in the lecture room for Jeff’s first slide presentation and 28 in the dome or just arriving, as counted by RASC London Centre member Bob Duff at 7:30 p.m. There were just 5 people for Jeff’s second presentation. In all, there were an estimated 80 visitors for the evening.

Graduate student Viraja Khatu operated the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome showing visitors the 3-days-past-first quarter gibbous Moon, using the 32mm Erfle eyepiece (137X) and later swapping in the Meade 28mm Super Wide Angle eyepiece (157X) for a better view. RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Henry Leparskas and Bob Duff, later joined by Dale Armstrong, Mark Tovey and Edith Tovey. Everett set up the observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain (20mm Plossl eyepiece, 100X) inside the dome, and Bob supervised as visitors viewed the TV screen in the Western Sports & Recreation Center windows, through the door to the observation deck. As the sky cleared Bob and Dale moved the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain out onto the observation deck and Everett also set up the RASC London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian. Dale operated the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain showing visitors the Orion Nebula (M42), using the 26mm Plossl eyepiece (77X). Bob operated the 25.4cm Dobsonian, installing the 17mm Nagler eyepiece (66X) and showing visitors Orion Nebula (M42) and the Pleiades star cluster (M45).

Downstairs in the “Black Room” Henry Leparskas gave demonstrations of the “Transit Demo” model—showing how the transit detection method worked for finding extra-solar planets. 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. Henry also gave 2 tours to groups through the “1940s Period Room,” while Mark was in the “1967 Period Room” with other groups. Both “Period Rooms” were designed by Mark Tovey.

Bob and Everett talked to one inquiring visitor about choosing a telescope and Everett gave out 12 “Star Finder” planispheres to children. People asked many good questions. The visitors were gone by around 9:00 p.m., after an enjoyable evening learning about astronomy and observing through telescopes.