Partly cloudy skies greeted some 40 visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, June 13th, 2015, 8:30 p.m. Graduate student Neil Bhatt made 2 presentations of his digital slide presentation “Decoding Starlight”, which was about spectroscopy, to about 10 people in total.
Graduate student Shannon Hicks was telescope operator and reported around 35 people, although not everyone came to the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome. Shannon showed visitors Venus, which was at half-phase, in the big 25.4cm refractor, using the 2-inch 32mm Erfle (137X) eyepiece, and then swapping in the 1—¼-inch adaptor to use the 18mm Radian (244X) and 8mm Ortho (548X) eyepieces. The view of Venus at these high magnifications was wonderful, although slightly blurred with atmospheric seeing in the western sky. Jupiter was a fine sight in the big 25.4cm refractor when viewed with the 18mm Radian (244X) eyepiece. Shannon also showed visitors an unprecedented view of Saturn, with the 32mm Erfle (137X) and 18mm Radian (244X) eyepieces. However, the best view of Saturn was with the 8mm Ortho (548X) eyepiece with cloud belts on the planet’s surface and the Cassini Division in the rings visible.
Graduate student and RASC London Centre member Emily McCullough assisted Shannon with directing the big 25.4cm refractor and also operated the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X) set up on the roof patio outside the dome. She was joined by RASC London Centre members Tricia Colvin and Mark Tovey who operated the Observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade 2080/LX3 Schmidt-Cassegrain. London Centre member Richard Gibbens listened to the slide lecture and visited the roof patio. Objects observed in these telescopes included Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and the orange and blue double-star Albireo.
Emily distributed 6 “Star Finder” planispheres to 4 adults and 2 children and one couple indicated they may attend the upcoming meeting of the RASC London Centre. Graduate student Dilini Subasinghe was also there along with Western’s Physics and Astronomy Department computer resources person and RASC member Henry Leparskas, who took pictures with his camera throughout the evening and assisted Neil with closing the dome. The last visitor left around 11:15 p.m. after a very successful evening of astronomy.