Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, November 9th, 2013

Cloudy skies with occasional light rain greeted visitors to the Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, November 9th, 2013, 7:00 p.m. Graduate student Shannon Hicks began her digital slide presentation, “Solar Weather,” before some 26 people, which increased to an estimated 45 visitors by the end of the evening. RASC London Centre member Richard Gibbens was there, enjoying the talk and later asking questions.

Graduate student Tony Martinez greeted people at the door. RASC London Centre member Bob Duff arrived around 7:00 p.m. and set up the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X). Since it was raining the Dobsonian was set up inside the dome to view the lights on the communications tower in south London through the roof patio door.

Tony brought everybody upstairs into the dome after Shannon’s presentation. After a brief introduction by Tony, Bob gave talk about the history and of the Cronyn Observatory as well as the technical aspects of the big refractor, showing them the 25.4cm objective lens. He also explained the 2 clocks on the east wall of the dome and the difference between standard and sidereal time. Bob then demonstrated the 25.4cm Dobsonian and explained the difference between a reflector and refractor telescope.

Shannon announced that it had stopped raining and Bob set up the 25.4cm Dobsonian outside on the roof patio and people viewed the spinning weathervane on the Engineering building through the 25.4cm Dobsonian with the 17mm Nagler eyepiece (66X). Tony announced that he was giving a second presentation of “Solar Weather,” and invited anybody who had just arrived or not seen the first presentation by Shannon entirely, to come downstairs.

Shannon opened the dome and directed the 25.4cm refractor, towards the communications tower in south London and Bob briefly assisted by centering the white flashing lights on the tower in the 32mm Erfle eyepiece (137X). Children and adults lined up to view the tower lights through the big 25.4cm refractor with Shannon assisting them at the top of the observing ladder.

Bob showed people the weathervane through the 25.4cm Dobsonian and discussed choosing a telescope with one couple. Another representative of RASC London Centre, Everett Clark, arrived around 8:10 p.m. and showed the visitors Web sites with amateur telescopes on the computer in the dome. Bob showed them his copy of “SkyNews” (November/December 2013) magazine and recommended Terence Dickinson’s book “NightWatch.” Several people took RASC London Centre brochures and Cronyn Observatory public night information cards. All the visitors were gone by 9:00 p.m. after a very informative and enjoyable evening of astronomy, despite the clouds.