Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, May 26th, 2018

Partly cloudy, later cloudy skies greeted 23 visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, May 26th, 2018, 8:30 p.m. They were welcomed by undergraduate student Meet Panchal who counted 23 visitors by the end of the evening. Graduate student Ameek Sidhu presented the digital slide presentation “NASA’s New Horizons Mission to Pluto” and fielded questions.

RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Bob Duff, Heather MacIsaac, Dale Armstrong and Mark Tovey, and Unattached RASC member Paul Kerans. Graduate student Collin Knight was telescope operator in the dome and Everett Clark assisted with directing the big 25.4cm refractor (Meade 28mm Super Wide Angle eyepiece, 157X) towards the 5-day-past-first-quarter gibbous Moon. The 25.4cm refractor was soon directed towards Venus in the western sky and finally towards the lights on the communications tower in south London after Venus was obscured by clouds.

Paul Kerans and Bob Duff set up the London Centre’s home-built 30.5cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 88X) on the observation deck for a brief view of the Moon before it was obscured by clouds. Dale Armstrong set up the observatory’s Meade 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain (26mm Plossl eyepiece, 77X) and showed visitors the Moon and later the communications tower. Heather MacIsaac showed visitors the Venus and later the communications tower through her Celestron NexStar 90SLT 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain (13mm Plossl eyepiece, 96X). There were also some visitors who brought a Celestron 114LCM computerized telescope (with a K25mm eyepiece), which they set up on the observation deck and received some technical advice from Everett and Paul.

With the sky clouded out, Paul showed visitors his meteorites and invited them to “walk on the Moon and Mars” by stepping on small meteorite samples in plastic cases emplaced in round wooden blocks made of oak. These round wooden Moon and Mars meteorite sample display cases were made by RASC London member Henry Leparskas, at the request of Professor Jan Cami, from a beautiful oak plank salvaged from the dome storeroom where the Dobsonian telescopes are stored.

Mark Tovey showed visitors the newly created “W. G. Colgrove Exhibit” and 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” and the “W. G. Colgrove Exhibit” were designed by RASC London Centre member Mark Tovey.

The visitors were gone by around 11:00 p.m. after an enjoyable evening with the slide presentation on the New Horizons mission to Pluto, a tour of the downstairs history room and viewing through telescopes, despite the mostly cloudy sky.