Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, June 16th, 2018

Mostly clear skies with some hazy clouds greeted some 47 visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, June 16th, 2018, 8:30 p.m. Graduate student Keegan Marr made 2 presentations of the digital slide presentation “Star Formation” and fielded questions. RASC London member Bob Duff counted 35 people in the first lecture, 8 in the dome and one in the “1940s Period Room” around 8:57 p.m. There were 12 people in the second slide lecture and, since some people were in the dome during the first slide presentation, the estimated total is 47 visitors for the evening.

RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Dale Armstrong, Heather MacIsaac, Steve Imrie, Bob Duff, Mark Tovey and Henry Leparskas. Graduate student Mark Froncisz was telescope operator in the dome and, with some help from Everett, showed visitors Venus, the 3-day-past-new crescent Moon and then Jupiter through the big 25.4cm refractor (Meade 28mm Super Wide Angle eyepiece, 157X).

Mark Froncisz and Henry Leparskas together set up the London Centre’s home-built 30.5cm Dobsonian and the observatory’s Meade 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain on the observation deck. Steve Imrie operated the 30.5cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 88X) showing visitors the 3-day-past-new crescent Moon and Jupiter, Saturn, the Ring Nebula (M57) and the double star Mizar and Alcor. Dale Armstrong operated the 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain showing visitors the Moon, using the 26mm Plossl eyepiece (77X), then swapping in the 15mm Sky-Watcher UltraWide eyepiece together with the CEMAX 2X Barlow lens (266X) to show visitors Jupiter. (The CEMAX 2X Barlow lens was borrowed from the observatory’s 90mm Coronado Solar Telescope.) Dale also showed visitors the stars Antares and Arcturus, the double star Izar (Epsilon Bootis), and the globular cluster M13 through the 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain. Heather MacIsaac set up her Celestron NexStar 90SLT 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain and showed visitors Venus, using a 17mm Plossl eyepiece (73.5X) and later Jupiter, swapping in the 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece (100X) from the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain for a better view of Jupiter.

Dale spent some time early in the evening helping a high school volunteer with her Celestron 114 equatorial Newtonian reflector, which was directed towards the communications tower in south London to align the finderscope, and later directed towards the Moon.

Downstairs in the history rooms, Mark Tovey showed visitors the newly created “W. G. Colgrove Exhibit” and the historic“1940s Period Room,” a recreation 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 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” and the “W. G. Colgrove Exhibit” were designed by RASC London Centre member Mark Tovey.

Henry Leparskas showed up later in the downstairs “Black Room” and did the “Transit Demonstration” with the “Transit Demo” model—showing how the transit detection method worked for finding extra-solar planets—and the “Spectroscopy Demonstration,” with the visitors putting on diffraction grating glasses to view the spectra of 4 gas discharge lamps, including hydrogen, helium, neon and mercury.

The visitors were gone by around 11:00 p.m., after a very enjoyable evening learning about astronomy and observing through telescopes.