Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, September 2nd, 2017

Cloudy damp rainy weather greeted some 48 visitors to the Cronyn Observatory Extra Summer Public Night, hosted by RASC London Centre members on Saturday, September 2nd, 2017, 8:30 p.m. RASC London Centre was represented by Dale Armstrong, Everett Clark, Peter Jedicke, Steve Gauthier, Bob Duff, Henry Leparskas, Mark Tovey, and new youth member Jacob Renders and his father.

Dale Armstrong made his digital slide presentation “Using / Acquiring a Small Telescope” and fielded questions. An equatorially mounted 60mm refractor, donated to the observatory, as well as Peter Jedicke’s 50mm Galileoscope, mounted on a camera tripod, were available for demonstration. Bob Duff counted 32 people in the lecture room at 8:39 p.m. and 47 at the end of Dale’s presentation. There was one more arrival later in the dome for a total of 48 visitors for the evening.

Downstairs in the “Black Room” Henry Leparskas gave demonstrations of the “Transit Demo” model—demonstrating the transit detection method for finding extra-solar planets—and the “Spectroscopy Demo,” inviting the visitors to put on diffraction grating glasses and view the spectra of 4 gas discharge lamps set up on the table, including: hydrogen, helium, neon and mercury. 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 in 1867—Canada 150. Both “Period Rooms” were designed by Mark Tovey.

Cloudy skies and damp weather ruled out opening the dome and the hoped for view of Asteroid 3122 Florence (1981 ET3), which made a close flyby on September 1st, 2017. Everett and Jacob set up the observatory’s Meade 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain (20mm Plossl eyepiece, 100X) inside the dome so as to view the TV screen in the Western Sports & Recreation Center through the door to observation deck. Everett also set up the observatory’s 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope, on the Sky-Watcher EQ5 mount. The London Centre’s home-built 30.5cm Dobsonian was also set up for demonstration.

When the visitors arrived upstairs in the dome, Peter gave a talk on the technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor, as well as the Schmidt camera and Cassegrain reflector telescope piggy-backed on the main telescope. He also talked about the Cronyn Observatory’s 75th anniversary, celebrated in 2015, of its opening on October 25th, 1940. Peter called their attention to the large posters, recently placed on the walls by Mark, Peter and Steve, featuring the Elginfield Observatory and 15 solar eclipses seen in Canada since Confederation in 1867.

Peter also explained how the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain and 30.5cm Dobsonian telescopes worked, as well as how the 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope showed prominences on the edge of the Sun by transmitting only a very specific wavelength in the spectrum of red light. Steve Gauthier demonstrated the 30.5cm Dobsonian to some of the visitors, who also viewed the TV screen in the Western Sports & Recreation Center through the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain as they talked with RASC London members.

The visitors were gone by around 11:00 p.m. after an enjoyable evening learning about astronomy, small telescopes and the history of the Cronyn Observatory, despite the damp rainy weather.