Hazy, partly cloudy skies greeted 43 visitors (25 children and 18 adults) from the 55th Girl Guides Unit of London for Exploring the Stars at the Cronyn Observatory, Thursday, November 28th, 2013, 7:00 p.m. Graduate student Tony Martinez made the digital slide presentation “The Scout / Guide Astronomy Badge.” Before starting his slide presentation, Tony briefly demonstrated the sky charting software “Stellarium,” showing them what the sky would look like if there were no clouds and explaining that the software was freely available on-line.
Tony brought everybody upstairs into the dome where Bob Duff introduced himself and Everett Clark as representing the RASC London Centre. Bob gave a talk on the history and technical aspects of the Cronyn Observatory and the 25.4cm refractor. He explained the 2 clocks on the east wall and the difference between standard and sidereal time. Everett directed the big 25.4cm refractor and showed people the star Deneb, using the 32mm Erfle eyepiece (137X), and later Vega, using the Meade 28mm Super Wide Angle eyepiece (157X).
The 25.4cm Dobsonian was set up with the 17mm Nagler eyepiece (66X) to view the weathervane on the Engineering building from inside the dome door but was not used. Instead, on the roof patio outside the dome Tony gave groups of Guides and adults tours of constellation Cassiopeia and Cygnus and the stars Capella, Deneb, Vega and Altair, glimpsed in the hazy sky between clouds. He indicated the position of Polaris using Bob’s laser pointer. Towards the end of the evening Tony called people’s attention to Jupiter rising in the east but it was considered to late to redirect the big 25.4cm refractor. Everybody was gone by around 9:00 p.m. after a very enjoyable and informative evening of astronomy.