Hazy skies greeted 146 visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, June 30th, 2018, 8:30 p.m. Graduate student Shannon Hicks made 2 presentations of her digital slide presentation “What Makes a Planet Habitable?” and fielded questions. Graduate student Collin Knight was in charge of “crowd control” and counted 146 visitors for the evening. There were 52 visitors counted by 8:38 p.m., with more people arriving during Shannon’s first slide presentation. There were half that many people for her second presentation.
RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Henry Leparskas, Heather MacIsaac, Steve Imrie, Norm McCall, Bob Duff, Dale Armstrong, Mark Tovey and Edith Tovey. Graduate student Ben George was telescope operator in the dome and showed visitors the planet Venus and later Saturn through the big 25.4cm refractor (Meade 28mm Super Wide Angle eyepiece, 157X). Everett assisted in the dome and on the observation deck and talked to visitors throughout the evening, distributing 10 “Star Finder” planispheres.
On the observation deck outside the dome, Steve Imrie and Norm McCall operated the London Centre’s home-built 30.5cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 88X) and showed people Venus, Jupiter and Saturn. Venus appeared gibbous, near half-phase, and 3 of the 4 Galilean moons were visible around Jupiter. Norm located Saturn in the hazy southeastern sky using the observatory’s 10 X 50mm binoculars and Steve directed the 30.5cm Dobsonian towards the ringed planet. Most people were able to see Saturn’s moon Titan and some an additional moon (possibly Rhea). Norm used his Mobile Observatory smartphone app to explain the orientation of the planets around the solar system and their location in the night sky.
Dale Armstrong and Everett Clark set up the observatory’s Meade 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain on the observation deck. Dale operated the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain for the evening and began by showing visitors the communications tower in south London, using the 26mm Plossl eyepiece (77X). With deepening twilight he swapped in the 15mm Sky-Watcher UltraWide eyepiece together with the CEMAX 2X Barlow lens (266X) to show them Jupiter through the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain. (The CEMAX 2X Barlow lens was from the observatory’s 90mm Coronado Solar Telescope.) The Great Red Spot was visible for 25 minutes, to the delight of many visitors, before it rotated out of view. Dale swapped in the 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece (160X) to view Saturn and later directed the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain towards the orange colored 2-day-past-full waning Moon rising in the east. Heather MacIsaac set up her Celestron NexStar 90SLT 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain and showed visitors Venus, using the 32mm Plossl eyepiece (39X), and Jupiter and Saturn, using the 17mm Plossl eyepiece (73.5X). After the public had gone, Heather tested her newly acquired Vixen 8mm Lanthanum LVW eyepiece (156X) for an awesome view of Jupiter in her 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope.
Bob, and later Norm, spent some time helping a high school volunteer with her Celestron 114mm equatorial Newtonian reflector, which was directed towards the communications tower in south London to align the finderscope and later directed towards Jupiter.
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 Workshop Period Room.” The 3 “Period Rooms” were designed by RASC London Centre member Mark Tovey.
The observatory was closed down around 11:15 p.m. after an enjoyable evening of astronomy for the visitors, graduate students and RASC London Centre members.