Exploring the Stars, 17th London Brownies, March 10th, 2015

Generally clearing skies with some hazy clouds greeted 41 visitors (26 children and 15 adults—not including one little boy in a stroller) from the 17th London Brownies for Exploring the Stars at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Tuesday, March 10th, 2015, 6:30 p.m. Graduate student Parshati Patel made the digital slide presentation “The Scout / Guide Astronomy Badge” and fielded questions. Parshati followed this with the activity “Crater Experiment”, inviting the children to the front of the room where she demonstrated how meteor craters on the Moon were formed by dropping various size balls into a pan placed on the floor and filled with flour and chocolate powder.

RASC London Centre was represented by Tricia Colvin and Bob Duff. Tricia set up the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X) on the roof patio outside the dome and, since it was still daylight, directed it towards the wind turbine on the Engineering building. Tricia then rotated and opened the dome while Bob directed the big 25.4cm refractor (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 137X) towards the white light on the communications tower in south London. When everybody arrived upstairs, Bob gave a brief talk on the history of the Cronyn Observatory and some technical aspects of the big 25.4 cm refractor.

By now the sky had darkened revealing Jupiter high in eastern sky and Venus towards the west. Bob advised everybody to divide into 2 groups with one going outside to view Jupiter through the 25.4cm Dobsonian, supervised by Tricia. Bob rotated the dome towards the west and located Venus in the big 25.4cm refractor (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 137X). Parshati supervised at the top of the observing ladder as children and adults climbed the steps to view Venus through the 25.4cm refractor. Jupiter was a splendid sight with its cloud belts and 4 Galilean moons visible as viewed through the 25.4cm Dobsonian. By the end of the evening people in both groups had the opportunity to view Venus and Jupiter through the big 25.4cm refractor and the 25.4cm Dobsonian, respectively. The visitors were gone by around 8:30 p.m., after expressing their thanks for a very enjoyable evening of astronomy.