Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, June 18th, 2016

Partly cloudy skies greeted some 130 visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, June 18th, 2016, 8:30 p.m. Graduate student Sebastian Bruzzone made 4 presentations of his digital slide presentation “Direct Imaging: Discovering New Planetary Systems.” There were 52 people at the beginning of the first slide presentation with more people arriving to fill the lecture room.

Professor John de Bruyn was telescope operator with undergraduate student William Hyland assisting in the dome and Physics and Astronomy staff member Henry Leparskas giving tours in the downstairs “Period Room.” There were 10 RASC London Centre members assisting with the event including Dale Armstrong, Everett Clark, Bob Duff, Steve Gauthier, Steve Imrie, Peter Jedicke, Paul Kerans, Heather MacIsaac, Tricia Colvin and Mark Tovey. Other London Centre members present included Richard Gibbens, who attended the slide lecture, and Roman Dubinski, who arrived later to view through telescopes.

Everett and Peter assisted John de Bruyn with the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome and showed visitors the 2-day-prior-to-full gibbous Moon using the 28mm Meade Super Wide Angle (157X), the 52mm Erfle (84X), the 18mm Radian (244X) and the 12.5mm Ortho (351X) eyepieces. They also directed the big 25.4cm refractor to show people Jupiter (18mm Radian eyepiece, 244X), Mars (12.5mm Ortho eyepiece, 351X) and Saturn (18mm Radian eyepiece, 244X).
Bob Duff and William Hyland set up the observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain, which William operated for the evening, showing visitors the Moon, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn, using the 26mm Plossl (77X), 20mm Plossl (100X) and 12.5mm Ortho (160X) eyepieces. Steve Gauthier and Steve Imrie operated the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X) showing visitors the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn. Steve Gauthier also used his 9mm Nagler eyepiece (124X) and Orion Shorty 2X Barlow lens. Heather MacIsaac set up her Celestron Go-To 90mm Maksutov telescope to show visitors the Moon, using her 32mm (39X) and 17mm (73.5X) Plossl eyepieces; Jupiter, using the 17mm Plossl (73.5X) eyepiece; and Saturn, using Steve Gauthier’s 9mm Nagler eyepiece (139X).

Setting up his 9.25-inch (23.5cm) Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope on its Sky-Watcher EQ6 mount in the Alumni / Thompson parking lot on the south side of the Cronyn Observatory, Paul Kerans showed visitors the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars through 21mm (112X) and 13mm (181X) Ethos eyepieces, using an Antares 1.25-inch Variable Transmission Polarizing filter with the 13mm Ethos eyepiece (181X) to reduce the Moon’s brightness. Towards 11:00 p.m. he used his 6mm Ethos eyepiece (392X) together with the variable polarizing filter to view great detail on the Moon. Paul packed up around 11:30 p.m. and estimated that perhaps 75 people (possibly 50 adults and 25 children) viewed through his telescope.

Bob brought a batch of “TMT: Astronomy’s Next-Generation Observatory Thirty Meter Telescope” pamphlets to the Cronyn for distribution to visitors in the dome. Downstairs in the “Black Room” Tricia Colvin operated the “Transit Demo” model throughout the evening—demonstrating the transit detection method for finding extra-solar planets—and was later joined by Mark Tovey. Henry Leparskas gave tours of the historic “Period Room.” 
Seeing conditions improved around 11:20 p.m., permitting exceptional views of Mars through the 25.4cm refractor (12.5mm Ortho eyepiece, 351X). The last few visitors were gone and the observatory was closed down after a very enjoyable evening of astronomy.