Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, June 2nd, 2018

Cloudy, later mostly clearing skies greeted 54 visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, June 2nd, 2018, 8:30 p.m. Professor Stan Metchev made 2 presentations of his digital slide presentation “How NASA’s New Space Telescopes Could Soon Detect Extrasolar Life” and fielded questions. Graduate student Ameek Sidhu greeted visitors. She counted 30 visitors for the first slide presentation by 8:54 p.m. There were 11 visitors for the second slide presentation. Ameek counted 53 visitors by 10:27 p.m., with one more late arrival on the observation deck bringing the total to 54 visitors for the evening.

Graduate student Sebastian Bruzzone was telescope operator in the dome and directed the big 25.4cm refractor (Meade 28mm Super Wide Angle eyepiece, 157X) towards the communications tower in south London early in the evening. As the sky cleared Sebastian directed the 25.4cm refractor towards Jupiter, which made a splendid sight for visitors through the Meade 28mm SWA eyepiece (157X). He later redirected the 25.4cm refractor to show people Venus in the western sky. Sebastian also obtained very good views of Venus and Jupiter through the 25.4cm refractor, using the 18mm Radian eyepiece (244X).

RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Bob Duff, Heather MacIsaac, Dale Armstrong, Mark Tovey and youth member Jacob Renders, who was there with his mother. Bob set up the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler Eyepiece, 66X) on the observation deck and directed it towards the wind turbine on the Engineering building, later showing visitors Jupiter and Venus. Jacob took pictures with his Nikon camera and also operated the 25.4cm Dobsonian later in the evening. Everett and Dale set up the observatory’s Meade 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain (26mm Plossl eyepiece, 77X), directing it towards the communications tower. Dale operated the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain for the evening, 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 binary star Izar (Epsilon Bootis) through the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain, using the 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece (160X). Heather directed her Celestron NexStar 90SLT 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain (32mm Plossl eyepiece, 39X) towards the communications tower early in the evening but soon swapped in her 17mm Plossl eyepiece (73.5X) to show visitors Jupiter and Venus.

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.

The visitors were gone by 11:00 p.m. after and interesting and enjoyable evening at the Cronyn Observatory, with the slide presentation on how new space telescopes could detect extrasolar life, tours of the downstairs history rooms and viewing Jupiter and Venus through telescopes.