Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, June 21st, 2014

Mostly clear skies with hazy clouds later in the evening greeted visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, June 21st, 2014, 8:30 p.m. Graduate student Sahar Rahmani made 2 presentations of her digital slide presentation “The Summer Solstice” before an audience numbering 25 people by 8:43 p.m. Postdoctoral fellow Sophia Lianou was crowd manager and estimated some 70 (67—73) people in her count by 11:00 p.m.

Graduate student Aycha Tammour was telescope operator for the evening. RASC London Centre members Everett Clark, Bob Duff, Steve Imrie and Mike Roffey assisted in the dome and set up amateur telescopes. London Centre member Richard Gibbens was also there and listened to the lecture. People began arriving in the dome after 9:00 p.m. and Everett assisted Aycha as she tried to locate Saturn with the big 25.4cm refractor using celestial coordinates (from sky charting software Starry Night on the computer) in the still bright sky through increasing hazy clouds. Graduate student Emily McCullough was there as a visitor and helped Everett and Aycha while Bob illuminated the telescope’s setting circles with his small flashlight.

On the roof patio outside the dome Steve operated the RASC London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian, showing visitors Mars and Saturn, with the 6mm Ortho eyepiece (186X), and the stars Antares, Arcturus and Vega, with the 17mm Nagler eyepiece (66X). Bob operated the Observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade 2080/LX3 Schmidt-Cassegrain, showing people Saturn, Mars and Vega, with the 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece (160X), and later doubling the magnification with the addition of the 2X Barlow lens (320X) from the Coronado telescope to show them Mars and Saturn again. Mike Roffey arrived around 9:20 p.m. and set up his 15cm Celestron NexStar 6SE Schmidt-Cassegrain on a Vixen alt-azimuth mount between the other 2 telescopes, showing visitors Saturn and Mars through his 8mm Baader Hyperion eyepiece (187X).

Since hazy clouds made locating Saturn difficult and it was already being viewed by amateur telescopes on the roof patio, the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome was directed towards Mars for the evening with good views being obtained with the 32mm Erfle (137X) and 18mm Radian (244X) eyepieces.

Bob called everybody’s attention to an ISS pass, travelling from west northwest to southeast, around 9:41—9:48 p.m., reaching 49 degrees maximum altitude (9:45 p.m.) in the southwest. The ISS was finally observed brightening and dimming in the hazy clouds as it travelled towards the southeast. Sophia gave out 10 “Moon Gazers’ Guide” cards to interested visitors. People were mostly gone by around 11:00 p.m. and the Observatory was closed down around 11:20 p.m. after a very enjoyable evening of astronomy despite partly cloudy hazy sky.