Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, July 5th, 2014

Clear skies greeted visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, July 5th, 2014, 8:30 p.m. Faculty member Dr. Stan Metchev made 2 presentations of his digital slide presentation “The Moon and Mars: The First Extraterrestrial Colonies”.  Research assistant Dimuthu Hemachandra was crowd manager and counted 78 visitors (62 adults and 16 children) by 10:00 p.m.

Graduate student Maryam Tabeshian was telescope operator for the 25.4cm refractor in the dome. RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Bob Duff, Dale Armstrong, Steve Gauthier, Harold Tutt, Steve Imrie and Mike Roffey. London Centre member Richard Gibbens was also there and listened to the lecture. Everett assisted Maryam with the big 25.4cm refractor, showing visitors the First-Quarter Moon, using the 32mm Erfle (137X) and 18mm Radian (244X) eyepieces; Saturn, using the 18mm Radian (244X) and 12.5mm Ortho (351X) eyepieces; and Arcturus, using the 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece (351X.) Everett distributed 3 “Star Finder” planispheres and 2 “Moon Gazers’ Guide” cards to visitors.

On the roof patio outside the dome Dale operated the Observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade 2080/LX3 Schmidt-Cassegrain showing visitors Mars and later the double-star Izar, using the 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece with the 2X Barlow lens (320X) from the Coronado telescope; and then the “Double-Double” star system Epsilon Lyrae, using the 15mm eyepiece with the 2X Barlow lens (266X).

The planet Mars was little more than 1/2 degree above the Moon and Steve Gauthier showed visitors Mars appearing just below the Moon in the inverted (upside-down) view of the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian with the 17mm Nagler eyepiece (66X). Steve and Bob also showed people good views of Saturn in the 25.4cm Dobsonian, using the 6mm Ortho eyepiece (186X).

Mike Roffey set up his 15cm Celestron NexStar 6SE Schmidt-Cassegrain on a Vixen alt-azimuth mount between the other 2 telescopes, showing visitors Mars, the Moon and Saturn through his 8mm Baader Hyperion eyepiece (187X); the Moon again with the with his 11mm eyepiece (136X); and the Moon and Mars together in the same field of view using his 40mm eyepiece (37.5X).

Harold Tutt set up his 80mm Stellarvue Nighthawk refractor with a Vixen alt-azimuth mount on the grassy lawn facing south behind Alumni Hall. Visitors viewed Mars, the Moon, Saturn, Albireo, Spica and Mizar and Alcor through Harold’s telescope, including 3 people who apparently did not visit the Cronyn Observatory.

Bob called everybody’s attention to 2 Iridium flares, one occurring at 10:56 p.m. (altitude 36 degrees) and a second much brighter one at 11:00 p.m. (altitude 38 degrees) in the northeast. There were just a few clouds in the sky when the Cronyn Observatory was closed down around 11:15 p.m. after an excellent evening of astronomy.