Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, June 25th, 2016

Partly cloudy skies with some hazy clouds, later clearing, greeted some 130 or more visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, June 25th, 2016, 8:30 p.m. Professor Pauline Barmby made 3 presentations of her digital slide presentation “Space is Hard!” —which concerned the challenges of space exploration and failed missions. There were some 60 people for the first slide presentation, 31 for the second and 4 for the third slide presentation.

RASC London Centre was represented by 9 members, including: Everett Clark, Heather MacIsaac, Bob Duff, Steve Gauthier, Steve Imrie, Tricia Colvin, Mark Tovey, Peter Jedicke and Mike Flegel. Recently graduated undergraduate student Nathalie Thibert was telescope operator and was assisted by Everett Clark in locating Jupiter with the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome (28mm Meade Super Wide Angle eyepiece, 157X). Peter Jedicke gave a telescope talk as people lined up to view through the 25.4cm refractor and called everybody’s attention to an Iridium flare occurring at 11:13:59 p.m., 32 degrees above the northeast horizon. The 25.4cm refractor was later directed towards Saturn (157X), with the 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece (351X) swapped in for a better view.

Steve Gauthier brought his laser collimator, and with help from Steve Imrie and Everett, collimated the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian. Steve Imrie operated the 25.4cm Dobsonian, showing visitors Jupiter and Mars, using the 17mm Nagler eyepiece (66X).  There were good views later in the evening of Saturn through the 25.4cm Dobsonian, using the 12.5mm (89X) and 6mm (186X) Ortho eyepieces. Steve Gauthier operated the observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain, showing visitors Jupiter, using the 12.5mm Ortho (160X), and Jupiter, Mars and Saturn, using his 9mm Nagler (222X) eyepiece. Steve also used his Orion Shorty 2X Barlow together with his 9mm Nagler to view Saturn at 444X in the Schmidt-Cassegrain. Heather MacIsaac showed visitors Jupiter, Mars and the stars Mizar and Alcor through her Celestron Go-To 90mm Maksutov (17mm Plossl eyepiece, 73.5X).

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—while Physics and Astronomy staff member Henry Leparskas gave tours of the historic “Period Room.” Mark Tovey arrived later, taking Henry’s place giving tours in the “Period Room.”

Observing continued after the visitors were gone with Saturn being viewed through the 25.4cm refractor using the 8mm (548X) and 4mm (1,096X) eyepieces and Steve Gauthier’s 9mm Nagler eyepiece (487X). A pleasing view of Mars was also obtained in the 25.4cm refractor using the 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece (351X). The observatory was finally closed down around 12:07 a.m. after an exceptional evening of planetary observing.