Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, May 28th, 2016

Mostly cloudy, later partly clearing skies, greeted some 120 visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, May 28th, 2016, 8:30 p.m. Postdoctoral fellow Andrew Pon made some 5 presentations of his digital slide presentation “Top 10 Bizarre Tales of Astronomy.” RASC London Centre member Bob Duff counted 57 visitors in the lecture room at the beginning of the first slide presentation and Peter Jedicke counted 69 visitors by 8:55 p.m. Professor Jan Cami estimated 100 people; this estimate increasing to 120 visitors by the end of the evening.

There were 10 RASC London Centre members assisting in the in the observatory and with amateur telescopes, including Everett Clark, Paul Kerans, Bob Duff, Peter Jedicke, Steve Gauthier, Heather MacIsaac, Dale Armstrong, Steve Imrie, Tricia Colvin and Mark Tovey. London Centre member Richard Gibbens was also there and listened to the slide lecture. Professor Jan Cami gave 3 tours of the observatory 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. Mark and Tricia were in the “Period Room” to welcome the visitors.

Graduate student Maryam Tabeshian was telescope operator for the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome and was assisted by RASC London Centre members Dale Armstrong and Everett Clark. Dale directed the 25.4cm refractor (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 137X) towards the lights on the communications tower in south London. Dale also placed the observatory’s Meade 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain on the table and, opening the window, showed visitors the red light on a tower above a campus building to the north. With deepening twilight Maryam and Everett directed the 25.4cm refractor towards Mars, briefly swapping in the 28mm Meade Super Wide Angle eyepiece (157X), before seeing conditions persuaded them to swap back in the 32mm Erfle (137X). However, seeing conditions improved and visitors later viewed Saturn in the 25.4cm refractor with the 28mm Meade SWA eyepiece (157X).

On the roof patio outside the dome, Steve Gauthier showed visitors Mars and Jupiter with the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X). Steve Imrie helped Steve Gauthier with the 25.4cm Dobsonian and supervising visitors. Paul Kerans set up the observatory’s Orion AstroView 6 (15cm) Newtonian reflector on the Sky-Watcher EQ5 mount to show visitors Mars and Jupiter, swapping in the 26mm Tele Vue Plossl eyepiece (29X) in place of the 10mm Plossl (75X) for a better view. Heather MacIsaac showed visitors Mars and Jupiter through her Celestron Go-To 90mm Maksutov telescope (17mm Plossl eyepiece, 73.5X). Everett Clark assisted one family with their 50mm alt-azimuth mounted refractor early in the evening. Peter Jedicke called everybody’s attention to an ISS pass travelling from west to northeast, between 10:56—11:03 p.m., reaching an altitude of 42 degrees above the north northwest horizon.

Physics and Astronomy’s computer resource person Henry Leparskas volunteered in the “Black Room” and “Period Room.” Also present were graduate student Dilini Subasinghe, who left early, and undergraduate student William Hyland. The Cronyn Observatory closed down with the last visitors leaving around 11:15 p.m., after an interesting and enjoyable evening of astronomy.