Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, July 2nd, 2016

Partly cloudy skies with hazy clouds, later clearing, greeted visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, July 2nd, 2016, 8:30 p.m. Graduate student Laura Lenkic made 2 presentations of the digital slide presentation “Small Bodies in the Solar System.” There were some 160 visitors by the end of the evening, and if we include 16 people who viewed through Paul Kerans’ 9.25-inch (23.5cm) Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope set up on the south side of the Cronyn Observatory but who did not enter the observatory, the total would be 176 people.

RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Bob Duff, Steve Imrie, Paul Kerans, Heather MacIsaac, Steve Gauthier, Dale Armstrong, Peter Jedicke, Tricia Colvin and Mark Tovey. Physics and Astronomy staff member Henry Leparskas assisted in the observatory and graduate student Keegan Marr supervised visitors. Graduate student Collin Knight was telescope operator for the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome and, with Everett’s help, showed visitors Jupiter, using the 28mm Meade Super Wide Angle (157X) and 18mm Radian (244X) eyepieces; Saturn (244X); and Mars, using the 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece (351X).

On the roof patio outside the dome, Dale Armstrong operated the observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain, showing visitors Mars and Saturn, using the 15mm Sky-Watcher UltraWide eyepiece together with a 2X Barlow lens (266X). Steve Gauthier operated the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian showing visitors Jupiter and Saturn with his 9mm Nagler eyepiece (124X). Steve also used his Orion Shorty 2X Barlow lens together with his 9mm Nagler to view Saturn at 248X in the 25.4cm Dobsonian. Also observed in the 25.4cm Dobsonian were the orange and blue double-star Albireo, using the 17mm Nagler (66X) and 9mm Nagler (124X) eyepieces, and M57 (124X). Heather MacIsaac set up her Celestron Go-To 90mm Maksutov and showed visitors Jupiter and Saturn (17mm Plossl eyepiece, 73.5X) and the stars Mizar and Alcor (32mm Plossl eyepiece, 39X).

Paul Kerans showed visitors Jupiter, Mars and Saturn through Paul Kerans’ 9.25-inch (23.5cm) Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain (21mm Ethos eyepiece, 112X), set up on his Sky-Watcher EQ6 Equatorial mount, on the south side of the Cronyn Observatory.

Downstairs in the “Black Room” Physics and Astronomy staff member Henry Leparskas operated the “Transit Demo” model early in the evening—demonstrating the transit detection method for finding extra-solar planets—while Mark Tovey gave tours of the historic “Period Room.” Tricia Colvin arrived later, taking Henry’s place demonstrating the “Transit Demo” while Henry helped Mark in the “Period Room” with the “Sotellunium” mechanical eclipse demonstration model.

A visitor spotted a satellite at 22:23 (10:23 p.m.) moving east through the Cygnus and called it to the attention of Henry Leparskas, who said it looked as bright as the ISS. Peter Jedicke looked it up on his cell phone and it turned out to be the derelict Chinese space station Tiangong-1. The Cronyn Observatory closed down around 11:20 p.m. after an interesting and enjoyable evening of astronomy.