Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, March 8th, 2014

Clear skies with some clouds greeted around 50 visitors to the Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, March 8th, 2014, 7:00 p.m. There were 34 people (including 6 children) when graduate student Shannon Hicks began the digital slide presentation “Extra Solar Planets”.  There were 7 more arrivals bringing the total to 41 with perhaps 3 leaving (possibly going upstairs into the dome) before RASC London Centre member Bob Duff left the lecture room for the dome. Additional arrivals brought the estimated total for the evening to 50 visitors. Shannon made a second presentation of “Extra Solar Planets” later in the evening.

Graduate student Parshati Patel showed visitors the first quarter Moon in the big 25.4cm refractor, with the 32mm Erfle eyepiece (137X). On the Observatory’s roof patio Bob showed visitors Jupiter in the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian, using the 17mm Nagler eyepiece (66X) and later swapping in the 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece (89X) for a better view with higher magnification. There were 3 Galilean moons observed to the right (celestial east) of Jupiter and near the end of the evening the 4th moon emerged on the right edge of the planet, much to the delight of several visitors. Bob also later showed some people the Moon through the 25.4cm Dobsonian with the 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece (89X).

Parshati asked Bob to use his laser pointer to help direct the big 25.4cm refractor towards the double star Castor. However, the laser did not work well in the cold and Bob directed the 25.4cm refractor towards Castor as Parshati rotated the dome. Castor appeared as a tight smeary double thanks to some atmospheric turbulence or possibly warm air rising from the dome. However, visitors could clearly see Castor as a double star in moments of good seeing.

Towards the end of the evening Bob reinstalled the 17mm Nagler eyepiece (66X) to enable a couple of visitors to image the Moon with a cell phone camera. Everybody was gone by around 9:00 p.m. after a very successful and enjoyable evening of astronomy, despite the cold weather.