Clear skies greeted an estimated 180 visitors to the Western University Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, March 24th, 2018, 8:00 p.m. Graduate student Viraja Khatu made 3 presentations of the digital slide presentation “Death of Stars.” RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Henry Leparskas, Bob Duff, Mark Tovey and Edith Tovey. Professor Paul Wiegert, who is also a RASC London Centre member, also assisted on the observation deck.
Bob counted 69 visitors in the lecture room at 8:05 p.m. for Viraja’s first slide presentation, as well as 16 people in the downstairs “Black Room,” 11 in the entrance and stairwell and 19 in the dome and observation deck by 8:10 p.m. Viraja counted 50 visitors for her second slide presentation at 8:45 p.m. and 7 for her third presentation at 9:40 p.m. In all, Bob estimated some 150—200 visitors with the final estimate of 180 visitors suggested by Everett.
Upstairs in the dome, Everett Clark operated the big 25.4cm refractor (Meade 28mm Super Wide Angle eyepiece, 157X), showing visitors the first quarter Moon, the double star Castor, and then the Moon again. Professor Paul Wiegert and London Centre member Bob Duff set up the London Centre’s home-built 30.5cm Dobsonian on the observation deck. Bob showed visitors the Moon, the Orion Nebula (M42) and later the Moon again though the London Centre’s 30.5cm Dobsonian (18mm Radian eyepiece, 83X). Professor Paul Wiegert showed visitors the Moon through the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X).
Downstairs in the “Black Room” Henry Leparskas did the “Transit Demonstration” with the “Transit Demo” model—showing how the transit detection method worked for finding extra-solar planets—as well as 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. Henry, and later Mark Tovey, gave tours of 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. Edith Tovey assisted with the “Period Rooms” tours. Both “Period Rooms” were designed by Mark Tovey.
The visitors were gone from the dome by 10:20 p.m. and from the downstairs “Black Room” and “Period Rooms” before 10:50 p.m. after a very enjoyable evening learning about astronomy and observing through telescopes.