Doors Open London and Culture Days at Cronyn Observatory, October 1st, 2016

Cloudy damp weather greeted visitors to the Doors Open London and Culture Days celebration at the Hume Cronyn Memorial Observatory, Saturday, October 1st, 2016, 2:00—10:00 p.m. This was part of the Doors Open London and Culture Days, October 1st—2nd, 2016, free weekend celebrating of London’s cultural experiences, with more than 40 sites and 150 events across the city.

Graduate student Dilini Subasinghe was the event organizer and she greeted people in the observatory’s lecture room, where there was a display table of take-away promotional material for “Doors Open London and Culture Days” as well as “Exploring the Stars” flyers. An automated digital slide presentation showed historic pictures of the Cronyn Observatory. Dilini counted 88 visitors before leaving at 5:15 p.m. with graduate student Robin Arnason taking over welcoming and bringing the final count to 201 visitors.

RASC London Centre was represented by Paul Kerans, Everett Clark, Bob Duff, Dale Armstrong, Tricia Colvin, Mark Tovey, Peter Jedicke and Steve Gauthier. Richard Gibbens visited and watched the slide presentation.
Since damp cloudy weather ruled out solar observing, Paul Kerans arrived early around 11:00 a.m. and set up the 3 amateur telescopes inside the dome, including his 9.25-inch (23.5cm) Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain (Sky-Watcher EQ6 mount) — set up somewhat back from the door to the roof patio—and the observatory’s 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope (Sky-Watcher EQ5 mount) and 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain. Steve Gauthier was there 6:00—10:00 p.m. and showed visitors views of the wind turbine on the Engineering building as well as objects on a shelf visible in one of the windows with London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X) set up just inside the door to the roof patio.

Since the communications tower in south London was obscured by haze, the big 25.4cm refractor (28mm Super Wide Angle eyepiece, 157X) was directed towards a construction crane in the city. Bob Duff was at the Cronyn Observatory 2:34 p.m.—5:10 p.m. and for a short time supervised and talked with visitors as they climbed the observing ladder to view through the big 25.4cm refractor.

Peter Jedicke arrived around 6:00 p.m. and, starting at 7:00 p.m., gave an interesting 40 minute digital slide presentation “The Hume Cronyn Memorial Observatory: A Brief History.” Dale Armstrong arrived around 2:30 p.m. and took pictures with his camera and tripod and helped out in the dome and the “Period Room” until closing, 10:00 p.m.

Downstairs in the “Black Room” Tricia Colvin operated the “Transit Demo” model—demonstrating the transit detection method for finding extra-solar planets. Mark Tovey gave tours of the historic “Period Room,” which featured the “Sotellunium” mechanical eclipse demonstration model and Dr. H. R. Kingston’s brass refractor telescope. Tricia and Mark were dressed in 1940s period costume complete with Mark wearing Dr. H. R. Kingston’s top hat!

Tricia and Mark were there from 2:30—10:00 p.m. with staff member Henry Leparskas giving one tour of the “Period Room” prior to their arrival. Henry and Dale Armstrong took over the “Black Room” and “Period Room” respectively, when Tricia and Mark took a break 8:15—8:45 p.m.

The observatory was closed around 10:00 p.m. after and very interesting and enjoyable afternoon and evening for the visitors, learning about astronomy, telescopes and the history of the Hume Cronyn Observatory.