Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, May 12th, 2018

A hazy cloudy sky greeted some 40 visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, May 12th, 2018, 8:30 p.m. Earth Sciences graduate student Liam Innis presented his digital slide presentation “Asteroid Mining: Pipe Dream or Gold Rush?” and fielded questions. There were 32 people in the lecture room at 8:55 p.m. and a total of some 40 visitors for the evening. Graduate student Ameek Sidhu did the “Transit Demonstration” and the “Spectroscopy Demonstration” downstairs in the “Black Room.”

Professor Paul Wiegert was telescope operator for the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome. RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Heather MacIsaac, Dale Armstrong, Bob Duff and Mark Tovey. London Centre member Richard Gibbens was also there and listened to the slide presentation. Dale gave talk on the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome. On the observation deck outside the dome, Bob showed visitors the wind turbine on the Engineering building through the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian, swapping in the 17mm Nagler eyepiece (66X) in place of the 52mm Erfle eyepiece (21.4X) for a better view. Dale showed a high school student volunteer how to use the observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain (26mm Plossl eyepiece, 77X). Heather MacIsaac directed her Celestron NexStar 90SLT 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain (32mm Plossl eyepiece, 39X) towards the communications tower in south London. The high school student volunteer was able to test her 3-power Barlow lens from her small telescope at home on Heather’s 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain, which produced a magnification of 108X with the 32mm Plossl eyepiece.

Downstairs in the “Black Room” graduate student Ameek Sidhu did the “Transit Demonstration” activity, 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 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. Both “Period Rooms” were designed by RASC London Centre member Mark Tovey.

The visitors were gone by around 11:00 p.m. after an enjoyable evening learning about asteroid mining, astronomy, telescopes and the history of the observatory, despite the cloudy sky.