Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, May 27th, 2017

Clear skies greeted 85 visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, May 27th, 2017, 8:30 p.m. Professor Aaron Sigut presented the digital slide presentation “Are We Alone?” and fielded questions. Undergraduate student Tina Yu was “crowd manager” and welcomed people at the entrance, counting 60 visitors by 9:20 p.m. and 85 by the end of the evening.

Graduate student Dilini Subasinghe was telescope operator for the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome. RASC London Centre was represented by Bob Duff, Peter Jedicke, Mark Tovey and Henry Leparskas. London Centre member Richard Gibbens was also there and listened to the slide presentation. With help from Henry and Peter, Dilini directed the big 25.4cm refractor towards Jupiter in the bright early evening sky, using celestial coordinates from the Starry Night Pro software on the computer. A few visitors viewed Jupiter through the big 25.4cm refractor (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 137X) before Dilini redirected it towards the 2-days-past new crescent Moon. With Bob’s assistance she swapped in the 28mm Meade Super Wide Angle eyepiece (157X) for a better view of the Moon, later redirecting the 25.4cm refractor for an excellent view of Jupiter.

Henry and Dilini set up the London Centre’s home-built 30.5cm Dobsonian on the roof patio outside the dome. Peter and Bob took turns throughout the evening showing visitors Jupiter through the 30.5cm Dobsonian, using the 17mm Nagler eyepiece (88X). Peter later showed them Antares (88X) and Bob swapped in the 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece (120X) for visitors to view the “Double-Double” star system Epsilon Lyrae. Bob also showed a few visitors Mizar and Alcor (88X).

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 150th anniversary of Confederation—Canada 150. Henry gave 2 demonstrations of the “Transit Demo” model—showing how the transit detection method worked for finding extra-solar planets—in the “Black Room.” Henry also gave one tour of the “1940s Period Room,” before Mark arrived. The observatory was closed down around 11:00 p.m. after a very enjoyable evening of astronomy.