Exploring the Stars, 2nd Lambeth Girl Guides and 1st Lambeth Pathfinders and Rangers, February 6th, 2018

A partly cloudy, hazy sky and cold weather greeted 25 visitors (including children and adults / leaders) from the 2nd Lambeth Girl Guides and 1st Lambeth Pathfinders and Rangers, for Exploring the Stars at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Tuesday, February 6th, 2018, 6:30 p.m. Graduate student Amanda DeSouza presented the digital slide presentation “The Scout / Guide Astronomy Badge” and fielded questions. Amanda then took the group downstairs into the “Black Room” for the “Spectroscopy Demo,” with the visitors putting on the diffraction grating glasses to view the spectra of 4 gas discharge lamps set out on the table, including: hydrogen, helium, neon and mercury.

RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Henry Leparskas and Bob Duff. Everett and Henry directed the big 25.4cm refractor (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 258X) towards the double star Gamma Andromedae (also known as Almach). Henry, Everett and Bob viewed an ISS pass at 7:10—7:13 p.m., travelling northwest—north northwest, reaching a maximum altitude of 25 degrees above the north northwest horizon (19:10:08—maximum altitude 25 degrees @19:12:56—19:13:07). When the visitors arrived upstairs in the dome Bob gave a brief talk on the history of the Cronyn Observatory and some of the technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor. Everybody enjoyed the view through the 25.4cm refractor, with the Gamma Andromedae primary star appearing golden-yellow, accompanied by the fainter blue secondary. Everybody went out onto the observation deck to view 2 bright Iridium flares both in the same location 40 degrees above the south southeast horizon, just 23 seconds apart at 7:37 p.m. (19:37:12 and 19:37:35 respectively).*

Everett and Henry later directed the big 25.4cm refractor towards the Orion Nebula (M42), swapping in the Meade 28mm Super Wide Angle eyepiece (157X) to give the visitors a better view. Towards the end of the evening and on request, Amanda made a brief presentation on black holes—using images from the Internet—for the older children who needed it for their astronomy badge. The visitors were gone by around 8:00 p.m. after and enjoyable evening of astronomy.

*Information concerning “ISS – Visible Passes” and “Iridium Flares” was found using the coordinates for London, Ontario, on the “Heavens Above” Web site: http://www.heavens-above.com/