Doors Open London at the Cronyn Observatory, Saturday, September 16th, 2017

Hazy, partly cloudy skies greeted 450 visitors to the Doors Open London at the Cronyn Observatory, Saturday, September 16th, 2017, 2:00—10:00 p.m. Doors Open London is a celebration of the London’s history, heritage and culture, with events across the city, running September 16th—17th, 2017. Professor Jan Cami coordinated the event at the Cronyn Observatory with 128 people counted by 4:49 p.m., 163 at 6:06 p.m. and 450 by 10:00 p.m.

Graduate students Viraja Khatu and Amanda DeSouza welcomed visitors for solar observing in the afternoon. RASC London Centre was represented by Henry Leparskas, Everett Clark, Mark Tovey, Edith Tovey, Peter Jedicke and youth member Jacob Renders, who departed early, before Bob Duff arriving at 3:30 p.m. Bob departed around 6:24 p.m. and Dale Armstrong arrived later, for the evening.

Everett and Henry set up solar filtered telescopes on the observation deck outside the dome. Amanda, Viraja and Bob took turns operating the observatory’s 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope (Sky-Watcher EQ5 mount), using the CEMAX 18mm (44X) and 12mm (67X) eyepieces, to show solar prominences on the Sun. Everett and Jacob, and later Amanda and Viraja, operated the Meade 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain, fitted with a Kendrick Baader film solar filter, using the 26mm (77X) and 20mm (100X) Plossl eyepieces, to show a pair of sunspots near the centre of the Sun’s disk. Viraja also operated the London Centre’s 60mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope set up on the observatory’s Orion equatorial mount.

Henry Leparskas made 2 presentations his digital slide presentation on the “History of the Cronyn Observatory” in the afternoon, and one presentation in the evening, with the lecture room fairly full. After his evening slide presentation, Henry went upstairs into the dome to join Viraja, Dale and Everett for star gazing. Viraja, with assistance from Everett and Henry, directed the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome to show visitors the stars Vega, Albireo (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 258X) and the double star Mizar and nearby Alcor (Meade 28mm Super Wide Angle eyepiece, 157X). On the observation deck outside the dome, Dale Armstrong operated the observatory’s Meade 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain from dusk until closing, showing visitors Saturn (12.5mm Ortho eyepiece, 160X). Dale reported that it was a steady night with great seeing. Henry set up the London Centre’s home-built 30.5cm Dobsonian and showed visitors the Ring Nebula (M57) and, at the very end of the evening, globular cluster M13, using the 32mm Erfle (47X) and 18mm Radian (83X) eyepieces.

Downstairs in the “Black Room” Professor Jan Cami gave 6 demonstrations of the “Transit Demo” model—showing how the transit detection method worked for finding extra-solar planets—and 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. 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,” a recreation of the early control room of the Elginfield Observatory, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Confederation—Canada 150. Both “Period Rooms” were designed by Mark Tovey.

Visitors remained longer than the planned 10:00 p.m. closing time with Jan closing the front door at 10:15 p.m. Everybody was gone from the Cronyn Observatory by 11:15 p.m. after an enjoyable evening of stargazing and learning about the history of astronomy at Western University.