Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, July 1st, 2017

Mostly clear skies greeted some 32 visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, July 1st, 2017, 8:30 p.m. Undergraduate student Meet Panchal made 3 presentations of his digital slide presentation on “Gravitational Waves and fielded questions. Graduate student Richard Bloch was “crowd manager” for the evening and counted a total of 32 visitors. Since it was the Canada Day 150 anniversary there were fewer visitors than usual, although fireworks in Harris Park were visible from the observation deck at 10:00 p.m.

Professor Jan Cami was there early in the evening and helped the telescope operator, undergraduate student Roy Zang, direct the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome towards Jupiter, using hour angle and declination coordinates from the Starry Night Pro software on the computer. Roy showed visitors excellent views of Jupiter and Saturn through the 25.4cm refractor, with the 28mm Meade Super Wide Angle eyepiece (157X), throughout the evening.

RASC London Centre was represented by Henry Leparskas, Steve Imrie, Heather MacIsaac, Paul Kerans, Dan Tremblay, Bob Duff, Dale Armstrong, Steve Gauthier, Mark Tovey and Edith Tovey. On the roof patio outside the dome Paul Kerans set up his Celestron 9.25-inch (23.5cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain on a Vixen equatorial mount and showed visitors the one-day-past-first quarter Moon (28mm eyepiece, 84X) and then Jupiter, the globular cluster M13, and the galaxies M81 and M82, using his Sky-Watcher LE 15mm eyepiece (157X). Heather showed visitors good views of Jupiter and Saturn through her Celestron Go-To 90mm Maksutov using a 17mm Plossl eyepiece (73.5X), and then Saturn again, using a 13mm Plossl eyepiece (96X).

Steve Imrie directed the London Centre’s home-built 30.5cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 88X) towards the one-day-past-first quarter Moon. He was joined by Steve Gauthier, who used his laser collimator to improve the secondary mirror collimation in the 30.5cm Dobsonian, and realigned the finderscope. They showed visitors the Moon and Jupiter (88X) and then swapped in the 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece (120X) to show them Jupiter again. They then borrowed Paul’s 2-inch 2X Barlow lens and combined it with the 17mm Nagler eyepiece to view Jupiter at 176X in the 30.5cm Dobsonian.

Mark Tovey gave visitors tours of the downstairs “1940s Period Room,” an historic recreation (designed by Mark) 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 his work being done on the “1967 Period Room,” recreating the early control room of the Elginfield Observatory to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation—Canada 150. Henry Leparskas gave demonstrations of the “Transit Demo” model—showing how the transit detection method worked for finding extra-solar planets—in the “Black Room” for the first half of the evening.

Mark later closed down the “Period Rooms” and joined the observers upstairs on the observation deck. Dale Armstrong took pictures with his camera and tripod in the dome and on the observation deck throughout the evening. Observing continued until 11:10 p.m., with the dome being closed down around 11:25 p.m., after a very enjoyable evening of astronomy.