Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, June 23rd, 2018

Partly clear, later cloudy skies greeted 46 visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, June 23rd, 2018, 8:30 p.m. Graduate student Mark Froncisz presented his digital slide presentation “Exploring the Outer Planets” and fielded questions. RASC London member Bob Duff counted 18 visitors in the lecture room at 8:30 p.m. and 37 by the end of the slide presentation. More visitors arrived and graduate student Meet Panchal, who was telescope operator for the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome, counted 46 visitors by the end of the evening.

RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Henry Leparskas, Bob Duff, Steve Imrie, Dale Armstrong, Mark Tovey and Heather MacIsaac. Everett set up the observatory’s Meade 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain (20mm Plossl eyepiece, 100X) inside the dome door so as to view the bicycle rack in front of the Student Western Sports & Recreation Center. The 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain was soon moved to the observation deck where Dale showed some visitors Venus, the 3-day-past-first quarter gibbous Moon and Jupiter, using the 26mm Plossl eyepiece (77X). Heather set up her Celestron NexStar 90SLT 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain (17mm Plossl eyepiece, 73.5X) and briefly observed Venus before it was obscured by clouds. She then swapped in the 32mm Plossl (39X) to show visitors the Moon and Jupiter through her 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain. Everett directed the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain towards the communications tower in south London after the sky clouded over.

There was a visitor from the CHRW Radio Western campus broadcast station and she briefly interviewed Henry Leparskas and Bob Duff. Henry gave her a tour of the dome, where she viewed Venus and the Moon through the telescopes set up on the observation deck. Henry then brought her downstairs where he briefly showed her the “W. G. Colgrove Exhibit”—W. G. Colgrove’s workshop—before Mark Tovey came by and continued with a tour of the workshop and historic “Period Rooms.” The visitor from CHRW Radio Western interviewed Mark Tovey and Dale Armstrong extensively. She also interviewed Mark Froncisz after his slide presentation.

Bob Duff listened to the slide presentation as he counted visitors and then went upstairs into the dome where he gave one couple, and later 3 students, a brief talk on some of the history of the observatory and technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor, using the Meade 28mm Super Wide Angle eyepiece (157X), which was in the telescope’s diagonal, to explain how magnification was calculated. He also explained the 2 clocks on the east wall and the difference between Standard and Sidereal Time. The dome remained closed due to the dark clouds coming in from the north and expected rain.

Henry Leparskas spent most of the evening downstairs in the “Black Room” where he 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.

Mark Tovey spent the evening in the downstairs history rooms, showing visitors the“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; the “1967 Period Room,” recreating the early control room of the Elginfield Observatory to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation—Canada 150; and the newly created “W. G. Colgrove Exhibit.” Henry gave 2 small groups of people specific tours of the history rooms to answer specific questions they had asked, while Mark was engaged with other groups. Both “Period Rooms” and the “W. G. Colgrove Exhibit” were designed by RASC London Centre member Mark Tovey.

Most of the visitors were gone by around 10:30 p.m. and the observatory was closed down by around 11:00 p.m., after an interesting and enjoyable evening with the slide presentation on the exploration of the outer planets, demonstrations of the transit detection method for finding extrasolar planets, the spectroscopy demonstration, tours of the history rooms and observing through telescopes.