Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, July 16th, 2016

Clear skies greeted an estimated 150 visitors to the Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, July 16th, 2016, 8:30 p.m. Professor Margaret Campbell-Brown made 3 presentations of her digital slide presentation “When Worlds Collide: Asteroids, Comets and the Earth.” Some 119 visitors attended the presentations, including 75 visitors for the first presentation, 18 for the second and 26 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 150 visitors.

Professor Peter Brown was telescope operator for the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome. Professor Jan Cami was there along with Physics and Astronomy staff member Henry Leparskas, graduate student Mark Baker and postdoc Aycha Tammour. RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Norm McCall, Bob Duff, Steve Imrie, Peter Jedicke, Dale Armstrong, Heather MacIsaac, Tricia Colvin and Mark Tovey.

Peter Brown and Jan Cami directed the big 25.4 refractor (28mm Meade Super Wide Angle eyepiece, 157X), towards the 5-day-past-first quarter waxing gibbous Moon around 8:45 p.m. They were later joined by Peter Jedicke and directed the big 25.4cm refractor to show visitors Jupiter (157X) and Saturn (18mm Radian eyepiece, 244X). Everett Clark set up the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian and the observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain on the roof patio outside the dome.

Steve Imrie operated the 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X), showing visitors the Moon, Mars and Saturn. Dale Armstrong operated the 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain showing visitors the Moon, using the 20mm Plossl eyepiece (100X), and Mars, using the 15mm Sky-Watcher UltraWide eyepiece together with the 2X Barlow lens (266X). (The 2X Barlow lens was borrowed from the observatory’s 90mm Coronado H-alpha solar telescope.) Dale also showed the visitors M13 and M57 in the 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain, using the 26mm Plossl eyepiece (77X), and the Moon, using the 15mm SkyWatcher eyepiece / 2X Barlow lens (266X) combination, and the 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece (160X).

Postdoc Aycha Tammour familiarized herself with the observatory’s Orion AstroView 6 (15cm) Newtonian reflector—set up on the roof patio outside the dome—showing visitors various sky objects.
Norm McCall set up his 25.4cm (f/4.5) Meade DS-10 Newtonian reflector in the Alumni / Thompson Parking Lot on the south side of the Cronyn Observatory and showed visitors the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn and the stars Mizar and Alcor and Arcturus, using his 20mm Explore Scientific eyepiece (57X) and doubling the magnification with the addition of a 2X Barlow lens (114X).

Downstairs in the “Black Room” Professor Jan Cami and graduate student Mark Baker demonstrated 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. Tricia Colvin demonstrated the transit method for finding extra-solar planets, with “Transit Demo”—a turntable with a lighted model star (or distant “sun”) in the middle and model planets revolving around it, with a photodiode (representing the Kepler space telescope) clamped to a laboratory stand and linked to a laptop computer. The laptop computer displayed the dipping light curve, which was also displayed on a larger screen, as various size model planets revolved around and in front of the lighted model star. These were very impressive demonstrations in the darkened “Black Room.” Tricia was later joined by Mark Tovey, who took over from Mark Baker in demonstrating the “Spectroscopy Demo.”

The last visitors were gone by around 11:35 p.m. after a very interesting and enjoyable evening of astronomy.