Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, May 20th, 2017

Cloudy skies with light rain greeted 31 visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, May 13th, 2017, 8:30 p.m. Graduate student Shannon Hicks made 2 presentations of the digital slide presentation “The Final Mission of the Cassini Spacecraft” and fielded questions. There were 20 visitors for the first slide presentation and 5 for the second slide presentation, with 6 other visitors simply visiting the dome.

Professor Paul Wiegert was telescope operator for the big 25.4cm refractor, although rain at first ruled out opening the dome. RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Bob Duff, Dale Armstrong, Peter Jedicke, Heather MacIsaac and Mark Tovey. London Centre member Richard Gibbens was also there and listened to the 2 slide presentations.

Everett set up the observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain (20mm Plossl eyepiece, 100X) inside the dome so as to view the TV screen in the Western Sports & Recreation Center window through the roof patio door. Heather showed visitors the communications tower in south London through her Celestron Go-To 90mm Maksutov (32mm Plossl eyepiece, 39X) set up so as to view out the roof patio door. When the visitors arrived upstairs in the dome, Dale gave a talk on the history of the observatory and technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor, as well as the Schmidt Camera and Cassegrain reflector piggy-backed on the main telescope. Dale also called their attention to the 2 clocks on the east wall and explained the difference between Standard and Sidereal Time. Dale supervised as visitors viewed the red lights on the communications tower and later Jupiter, between clouds, through the 25.4cm refractor (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 137X).

Mark Tovey gave visitors tours of the downstairs “1940s Period Room,” a historic recreation (designed by Mark) 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 his work on the “1967 Period Room,” recreating the early control room of the Elginfield Observatory to celebrate the 150thanniversary of Confederation—Canada 150. Mark explained the “Transit Demo” model—showing how the transit detection method worked for finding extra-solar planets—in the “Black Room,” although the laptop computer was not set up for him to do a demonstration.

Heather reported approximately 10 “Star Finder” planispheres were distributed, all to children. The last visitors were gone by around 10:45 p.m. and Dale took several group pictures of the London Centre members with Paul Wiegert and Shannon. The observatory was closed down around 11:00 p.m. after a very enjoyable evening despite the cloudy damp weather.