Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, May 5th, 2018

Partly cloudy skies greeted visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Summer Public Night, Saturday, May 5th, 2018, 8:30 p.m. They were welcomed by graduate student Hadi Papei, who was in charge of “crowd control” and counted 36 visitors for the evening. Earth Sciences graduate student Arya Bina made 2 presentations of his digital slide presentation “The Periglacial Landscape of Mars: a Climate History from an Earth Spectacle” and fielded questions. Professors Jan Cami and Els Peeters were also there and did demonstrations of the “Transit Demo” and “Spectroscopy Demo” in the “Black Room.”

Graduate student Keegan Marr was telescope operator for the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome. RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Steve Imrie, Bob Duff, Henry Leparskas, Peter Jedicke, Heather MacIsaac and Dale Armstrong. London Centre member Richard Gibbens was also there and listened to the slide presentation. Keegan located Venus in the big 25.4cm refractor, using the 32mm Erfle eyepiece (137X) and with Bob Duff’s assistance swapped in the Meade 28mm Super Wide Angle eyepiece (157X) for a better view of the planet. Venus appeared as a gibbous disk with blue and orange colour fringing due to atmospheric dispersion near the western horizon.

Everett Clark had set up the observatory’s Meade 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain (12.5mm Ortho eyepiece, 160X) on the observation deck outside the dome and directed it towards the Canadian flag flying above University College to the northeast. Steve Imrie supervised as visitors viewed the flag through the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain. Heather MacIsaac set up her Celestron NexStar 90SLT 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain (32mm Plossl eyepiece, 39X) and to show visitors the communications tower in south London.

Downstairs in the “Black Room” Professors Jan Cami and Els Peeters did the “Transit Demonstration” activity, with the “Transit Demo” model—showing how the transit detection method worked for finding extra-solar planets, and the “Spectroscopy Demonstration,” with the visitors putting on diffraction grating glasses to view the spectra of 4 gas discharge lamps, including hydrogen, helium, neon and mercury. Henry Leparskas gave them a tour of 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. Henry 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” were designed by RASC London Centre member Mark Tovey.

The visitors were gone by around 11:00 p.m. after an enjoyable evening at the observatory despite the partly cloudy sky. Dale took some pictures with Peter, Henry, Bob, Heather, Jan and Els in front of the 25.4cm refractor telescope, using a couple of flashes with gel filters so as to illuminate the dome in purple light. Before leaving the dome Jan and Peter cut some new handles for the 25.4cm refractor from purple foam tubing to replace the orange handles installed by Peter some years earlier. The purple handles match the “Western” purple the telescope was painted for the 2015 Cronyn Observatory 75th Anniversary.