Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, November 25th, 2017

Cloudy skies with some light rain greeted 50 or more visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, November 25th, 2017, 7:00 p.m. Graduate student Jeff Vankerkhove presented the digital slide presentation “Our Solar System” and fielded questions. The visitors were then invited to go upstairs into the dome or downstairs into the “Black Room,” for demonstrations of the “Transit Demo” and “Spectroscopy Demo,” and tours of the “Period Rooms.”

RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Mark Tovey, Bob Duff, Peter Jedicke and Dale Armstrong, who arrived later. Since cloudy skies ruled out opening the dome, Everett set up the observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain (26mm Plossl eyepiece, 77X) inside the dome so as to view the TV screen in the Western Sports & Recreation Center windows, through the door to the observation deck. People asked questions and Bob hauled out the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian to demonstrate how a classical Newtonian reflector telescope worked. Bob gave a talk to one group of visitors on the history of the Cronyn Observatory and technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor, using the 52mm Erfle eyepiece (84X) for demonstration. He explained the difference between a refractor and reflector telescope, pointing out the Cassegrain reflector telescope and Schmidt camera piggy-backed on the 25.4cm refractor—opening and closing the shutter on the Schmidt camera for demonstration. Bob also explained the 2 clocks on the observatory’s east wall and the difference between Standard and Sidereal Time, as well as the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain and 25.4cm Dobsonian reflector telescopes set up inside the dome.

Downstairs in the “Black Room” Jeff did demonstrations of the “Transit Demonstration” activity, showing visitors the “Transit Demo” model—demonstrating the transit detection method for finding extra-solar planets. Jeff also did the “Spectroscopy Demo,” with the visitors putting on diffraction grating glasses to view the spectra of 4 gas discharge lamps set out on the table, including: hydrogen, helium, neon and mercury. RASC London Centre member Mark Tovey, gave tours of the historic “1940s Period Room,” a recreation of Dr. H. R. Kingston’s 1940 office, and 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 Mark Tovey.

The visitors were gone by around 9:00 p.m., after an enjoyable evening learning about astronomy and telescopes, despite the cloudy, rainy weather.