Exploring the Stars, 81st London Venturing Crew, April 11th, 2017

As Reported by Paul Kerans

Cloudy skies greeted 6 students (16—18 years of age) from the 81st London Venturing Crew for Exploring the Stars at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Tuesday, April 11th, 2017, 7:00 p.m. Graduate student Kendra Kellogg presented the digital slide presentation “The Life and Times of Stars” and fielded questions. Kendra followed this with the activity “Kitchen Comet,” making a comet from dry ice and other materials.

RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark and Paul Kerans. Cloudy skies ruled out opening the dome. Everett set up the observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain (20mm Plossl eyepiece, 100X) inside the dome so as to view the TV screen in the Western Sports & Recreation Center through the door to the roof patio. When everybody arrived upstairs in the dome, Kendra gave a talk on the history and technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor. She explained the difference between the 25.4cm refractor and the 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain reflector telescope.

Paul gave a talk about his meteorites, including the chondrite (stony) and iron meteorites as well as the Moon and Mars meteorite samples in small plastic display cases. Some of the students accepted Paul’s invitation to “walk on the Moon” by stepping on his lunar meteorite sample display case placed in a wooden block with a transparent Lexan polycarbonate sheet cover.

Kendra took the students downstairs into the “Black Room” around 8:20 p.m. for the rest of the evening, where she did the“Transit Demonstration” activity, showing them the “Transit Demo” model—demonstrating the transit detection method for finding extra-solar planets.

The students had a great time throughout the evening and asked a lot of good questions. The visitors were gone by around 9:00 p.m. after an enjoyable and very interesting evening learning about stars, comets, telescopes, meteorites and the transit method for detecting extra-solar planets, despite the cloudy skies.