Exploring the Stars, 67th London Spark Unit, January 23rd, 2018

A cloudy sky with a light drizzle or rain greeted 20 visitors (10 children and 10 adults / leaders) from the 67th London Spark Unit for Exploring the Stars at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018, 6:30 p.m. Graduate student Jeff Vankerkhove presented the digital slide presentation “The Scout / Guide Astronomy Badge” and fielded questions.

Jeff followed this by presenting the “Make Your Own Constellation”—part of the activity “Make Your Own Constellation / Constellation Detective”—but leaving out the “Constellation Detective.” He showed the slide “How Many Constellations?” with the children drawing their own constellations by connecting the dots on a given pattern of stars on white transparency sheets with magic markers, and making up their own constellation stories.

RASC London Centre was represented by Bob Duff. Since damp rainy weather ruled out opening the dome, Bob set up the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X) so as to view the wind turbine on the Engineering building from inside the door to the observation deck. He also set up the observatory’s Meade 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain (26mm Plossl eyepiece, 77X) so as to view the TV screen in the Western Sports & Recreation Center windows, through the door to the observation deck.

When everybody arrived upstairs in the dome, Jeff explained some of the technical features of the big 25.4cm refractor. Bob gave a talk on the history of the observatory and technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor, using the 32mm Erfle eyepiece (137X) for demonstration. Bob also explained the Schmidt Camera and Cassegrain Reflector telescope piggy-backed on the 25.4cm refractor. Jeff demonstrated how the dome could be rotated and Bob explained the 2 clocks on the east wall of the observatory and the difference between Standard and Sidereal Time.

Bob showed them the 25.4cm Dobsonian and 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain and explained the difference between a reflector and refractor telescope. The visitors were then invited to view though the telescopes, with Jeff supervising as they viewed the TV screen in the Western Sports & Recreation Center windows through the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain and Bob showing them the wind turbine on the Engineering building through the 25.4cm Dobsonian. The visitors were gone by around 7:45 p.m., after expressing their appreciation for a very interesting and enjoyable evening learning about astronomy, constellations and telescopes.