Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, July 29th, 2017

Clear skies greeted some 104 or more visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, July 29th, 2017, 8:30 p.m. Professor Robert Cockcroft made 2 presentations of the digital slide presentation “New Horizons: A New Look at Pluto and fielded questions. RASC London member Bob Duff counted 57 visitors in the lecture room at 8:30 p.m., for the first slide presentation. More people arrived with some going into the lecture room and others going upstairs into the dome. Professor Robert Cockcroft counted 15 visitors for his second slide lecture. There were a total of 104 visitors counted midway through the evening, as people crowded into the dome and on to the observation deck.

Professor Robert Cockcroft immediately followed his first slide presentation by inviting visitors downstairs into the “Black Room,” where he showed them the “Transit Demo” model—demonstrating the transit detection method for finding extra-solar planets—and the “Spectroscopy Demo,” inviting the visitors to put on diffraction grating glasses and view the spectra of 4 gas discharge lamps set up on the table, including: hydrogen, helium, neon and mercury.

Bob Duff gave a brief tour of the “1940s Period Room,” and an informal demonstration of the “Spectroscopy Demo” and “Transit Demo” to a small group of visitors, prior to the arrival RASC London members Mark Tovey and Edith Tovey and Professor Robert Cockcroft. Mark gave tours of the historic “1940s Period Room,” a recreation of Dr. H. R. Kingston’s 1940 office and the “1967 Period Room” recreating the early control room of the Elginfield Observatory to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation—Canada 150. Both “Period Rooms” were designed by Mark Tovey.

Graduate student Collin Knight was telescope operator in the dome and showed visitors the Moon and Jupiter through the big 25.4cm refractor, using the 17mm Nagler eyepiece (258X). He later swapped in the Meade 28mm Super Wide Angle eyepiece (157X) so that RASC London member Rob McNeil could use the 17mm Nagler with the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian.

RASC London Centre was represented by Bob Duff, Mark Tovey, Edith Tovey, Heather MacIsaac, Steve Imrie, Dan Tremblay, Paul Kerans, Everett Clark, Dave McCarter, Rob McNeil and Mike Roffey. London Centre member Richard Gibbens was also there and listened to the slide lecture. London Centre member Mike Hanes and his son arrived prior to 8:30 p.m. to deliver the London Centre’s newly repaired home-built 30.5cm Dobsonian, but did not stay for the public night.

There were in all 7 amateur telescopes set up for the evening, including 5 telescopes on the observation deck and 2 just outside the observatory! On the observation deck, Steve Imrie operated the 30.5cm Dobsonian (18mm Radian eyepiece, 83X) showing people the one-day-prior-to first quarter Moon, Jupiter, Saturn and the double-star Mizar and nearby Alcor. Heather MacIsaac showed visitors Jupiter (17mm Plossl eyepiece, 73.5X) and then the Moon and the yellow and blue double-star Albireo through her Celestron NexStar 90SLT 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain. Dan Tremblay showed Saturn, Jupiter and the Moon through his 80mm Stellarvue refractor (9mm eyepiece, 80X) on an equatorial mount. Paul Kerans showed visitors the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, the globular cluster M13 and the Ring Nebula (M57) through his Celestron 9.25-inch (23.5cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain (21mm Ethos eyepiece, 112X) on a Vixen equatorial mount. A visitor set up his Sky-Watcher 8-inch (20cm) Newtonian reflector with an EQ6 equatorial mount on the west end of the observation deck.

Rob McNeil took the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece) outside the observatory and set it up beside Alumni Hall, where he showed people Saturn. On the south side of the observatory, Mike Roffey set up his 15cm Celestron NexStar 6SE Schmidt-Cassegrain on an Evolution mount and showed people Jupiter, the Moon and Saturn, using a Lunt 7.2—21.5mm zoom eyepiece.

Everett and Bob gave out 2 of the observatory’s solar eclipse glasses. Everybody was gone by around 11:15 p.m. with the observatory being shut-down after a very informative and enjoyable evening of astronomy.