Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, May 14th, 2016

Cloudy skies with rain showers greeted some 30 visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, May 14th, 2016, 8:30 p.m. Professor Els Peeters made 2 presentations of her digital slide presentation “Carbon and Our Cosmic Roots,” with the second presentation to just 2 people.

Professor Jan Cami gave tours of the observatory including the downstairs “Black Room,” with the “Transit Demo” model set up, and the “Period Room,” with displays including Dr. H. R. Kingston’s brass refractor telescope and the Sotellunium—a mechanical eclipse demonstration model—built by W. G. Colgrove. (The “Period Room” recreated H. R. Kingston’s office, based on a photograph from 1940, and was designed by RASC London Centre member Mark Tovey for the Cronyn Observatory’s 75th Anniversary, celebrated October 24th / 25th, 2015.)

Professor Stan Metchev gave 4 demonstrations of the “Transit Demo” model to small groups of visitors in the “Black Room” and explained how the transit detection method worked for finding extra-solar planets. A photodiode was clamped to a laboratory stand and linked to a laptop computer, which displayed the dipping light curve as model planets of various sizes revolved around and in front of the lighted model “sun” representing the distant star. It was a very impressive demonstration of the transit detection method for finding extra-solar planets. RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Dale Armstrong, Steve Gauthier, Peter Jedicke, Tricia Colvin, Heather MacIsaac and Bob Duff. London Centre member Richard Gibbens was also there and listened to the slide lecture. Upstairs in the dome Everett installed the 32mm Erfle eyepiece (137X) in the big 25.4cm refractor and directed the telescope upwards towards the south for demonstration but did not open the dome because of rain showers. Undergraduate student William Hyland supervised the visitors. Everett also set up the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X) just inside the dome door to the roof patio and directed it so as to show visitors the wind turbine on the Engineering building. Heather set up her Celestron Go-To 90mm Maksutov (32mm Plossl eyepiece, 39X) inside the dome, directing it through the door to show visitors the lights on the communications tower in south London.

Dale gave a telescope talk. Peter, Steve, Tricia and Bob talked to visitors. The visitors were gone by around 11:00 p.m. after an enjoyable evening learning about astronomy, despite the cloudy rainy weather.