Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, June 4th, 2016

Cloudy skies with some light rain greeted 28 visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, June 4th, 2016, 8:30 p.m. Earth Sciences graduate student Jeff Berger made his digital slide presentation “Exploring Mars with Curiosity” before 24 visitors (19 adults and 5 children). There were 4 later arrivals in the evening for a total of 28 visitors.

RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Tricia Colvin, Bob Duff and Dale Armstrong, with Mark Tovey arriving 10:25 p.m. A visiting graduate student was telescope operator for the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome, which remained closed because of the rain. Dale gave the telescope talk. Everett placed the observatory’s Meade 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain (12.5mm Ortho eyepiece, 160X) on the table and opened the window so that visitors could view the red light on a tower above a campus building to the north.

Since it was raining Everett set up the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X) and the observatory’s Orion AstroView 6 (15cm) Newtonian reflector inside the dome so as to view out the door to the roof patio. Visitors were invited to view the edge of the Engineering building roof through the 25.4cm Dobsonian and the lights on the communications tower in south London through the 15cm Newtonian reflector.

Visitors toured the observatory downstairs “Black Room” and “Period Room” with Physics and Astronomy staff member Henry Leparskas, and were welcomed by undergraduate student William Hyland and London Centre member Tricia Colvin. They were given a demonstration of the “Transit Demo” model—showing how the transit detection method worked for finding extra-solar planets—in the “Black Room” and given a tour of the historic “Period Room.”

The visitors were mostly gone by around 10:45 p.m. with the observatory being closed down at 11:00 p.m. after an interesting and enjoyable evening learning about astronomy, despite the cloudy rainy weather.