Partly cloudy skies and cold temperature greeted some 60 visitors to the Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, November 1st, 2014, 7:00 p.m. Graduate student Tony Martinez made the digital slide presentation “Solar Activity & Space Weather” and answered questions. Graduate students Shannon Hicks and Emily McCullough worked in the dome.
RASC London Centre was represented by Dale Armstrong, Tricia Colvin, Mark Tovey and Bob Duff, later joined by Peter Jedicke who arrived around 8:11 p.m. RASC London Centre member Richard Gibbens was also there and listened to the slide lecture. While Tony was still giving his slide presentation, Bob brought a family, which included a Brownie and her brother, upstairs into the dome where Emily and Shannon explained the observatory and this was for the Brownie astronomy badge.
When everybody arrived upstairs in the dome Shannon invited Bob to give a talk on the history of the Cronyn Observatory and the technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor. He also explained the 2 clocks on the east wall of the dome and the difference between Standard and Sidereal Time. Shannon then began showing people the 2-day-past-first-quarter gibbous Moon through the big 25.4cm refractor (18mm Radian eyepiece, 244X). Emily later took over from Shannon on the 25.4cm refractor and swapped in the 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece (351X) for greater magnification on the Moon. Emily also mentioned using the Baader 1 ¼-inch Neutral Density filter with the 18mm Radian eyepiece (244X) but not with the 12.5mm Ortho (351X) in the 25.4cm refractor.
On the roof patio outside the dome Dale operated the Observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade 2080/LX3 Schmidt-Cassegrain (15mm Sky-Watcher UltraWide eyepiece, 133X), showing people the Moon, Mars, and the double stars Almach (Gamma Andromedae) and Albireo (Beta Cygni). Tricia and Mark showed people the Moon through the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X). One family brought a Celestron AstroMaster EQ114 reflector telescope on an equatorial mount and Emily spent some time showing them how to use. They set it up on the roof patio between the 25.4cm Dobsonian and the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain to look at the Moon.
At Peter’s suggestion Bob gave 2 “Secrets of the Night Sky” (CSA) sky charts to 2 small children. Tony also gave out 1 “Star Finder” planisphere. Tricia brought LED dimming stickers to reduce the brightness of the flashing light indicating ISS passes. Visitors began leaving around 9:00 p.m. but it was not until 9:45 p.m. that the dome was finally shut down after a very enjoyable and informative evening of astronomy for everybody.