Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

Partly cloudy skies greeted 142 visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, June 3rd, 2017, 8:30 p.m. Professor Stan Metchev made 3 presentations of his digital slide presentation “Towards Finding Other Earths” and fielded questions. He preceded these presentations with a spectacular NASA video featuring the latest pictures from the Juno spacecraft mission to Jupiter.

Professor Carol Jones was telescope operator for the big 25.4cm refractor and directed people into the dome and downstairs into the “Period Room” after the slide presentations. Graduate student Viraja Khatu was “crowd manager” and welcomed people at the entrance, counting 85 visitors by 9:10 p.m. and 142 visitors by the 10:45 p.m.

RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Heather MacIsaac, Steve Imrie, Bob Duff, Dale Armstrong and Peter Jedicke. London Centre member Richard Gibbens was also there and listened to the slide presentations.

Professor Carol Jones and Everett made ready the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome, which was directed towards Jupiter. Visitors viewed Jupiter between clouds and later the 2-day-past-first quarter gibbous Moon and (briefly) the communications tower in south London through the 25.4cm refractor with the 28mm Meade Super Wide Angle eyepiece (157X) installed. Everett later swapped in the 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece (351X) to view the double shadow transit on Jupiter, beginning 10:21 p.m., of the Galilean moons Io (shadow ingress, 10:11 p.m.) and Ganymede (shadow ingress, 10:21 p.m.).

On the roof patio outside the dome, Dale Armstrong set up the observatory’s 20.3cm Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain to show visitors the Moon, using the 26mm Plossl eyepiece (77X), and then swapped in the 15mm Sky-Watcher Ultra-Wide eyepiece (133X) to show them Jupiter. Dale used the 2X Barlow lens from the Coronado solar telescope to double the magnification of the 15mm eyepiece to 266X for a pleasing view of the double shadow transit on Jupiter. Dale also showed visitors the “Double-Double” star system Epsilon Lyrae through the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain at 266X.

Steve Imrie and Bob Duff set up the London Centre’s home-built 30.5cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 88X) with Steve showing visitors the Moon. Steve later swapped in the 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece (120X) to show them the Moon and Jupiter through the 30.5cm Dobsonian. Bob later took over supervision of the 30.5cm Dobsonian for a while, with visitors trying to image the Moon through the eyepiece with their smartphones. Heather set up her Celestron Go-To 90mm Maksutov (17mm Plossl eyepiece, 73.5X) and showed visitors the Moon and Jupiter throughout the evening.

Peter Jedicke gave visitors tours of the downstairs “1940s Period Room,” a historic recreation (designed by RASC London member Mark Tovey) 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.

Around 10:45 p.m. some 15 visitors from the Let’s-Talk-Science conference on campus showed up and Peter Jedicke gave them and everybody remaining a telescope talk in the dome on the history and technical aspects of the Cronyn Observatory. Peter brought some newly printed RASC London brochures. Heather gave 3 pairs of eclipse glasses to a family interested in the August 21st solar eclipse. RASC London members and a few visitors were still viewing the double shadow transit on Jupiter after most everybody had left around 11:00 p.m. and the observatory was finally closed down at 11:45 p.m., after a very enjoyable evening of astronomy.