Exploring the Stars, Blyth Academy, April 8th, 2014

Clear skies with a few clouds greeted 16 visitors (10 students and 6 adults) from the Blyth Academy (Grade-9) for Exploring the Stars at the Cronyn Observatory, Tuesday, April 8th, 7:00 p.m. Graduate student Shannon Hicks made the digital slide presentation Life in the Universe and fielded questions. She followed this with the activity Crater Experiment with the students gathered around the table placed at the front of the lecture room to see craters formed by objects dropped into a pan filled with flour topped with powdered chocolate.

Bringing everybody upstairs into the dome, Shannon introduced them to RASC London Centre members Everett Clark and Bob Duff. Bob gave a talk on the history of the Cronyn Observatory and the technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor. He also explained the 2 clocks on the east wall and the difference between Standard and Sidereal Time. Everett had made ready the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome and set up the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian on the roof patio, with both telescopes directed towards the half-phase one-day-past-first-quarter Moon.

Shannon invited everybody to view the Moon through the big 25.4cm refractor, which was a pleasing sight, Everett having installed the 18mm Tele Vue Radian eyepiece (244X). Shannon and Everett also showed them Jupiter, Sirius and Mars. Being at opposition on April 8th, Mars made an especially satisfying view rising in the eastern sky. Everett also swapped in the 32mm Erfle eyepiece (137X) on the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome to enable people to image the Moon with their cell phone cameras.

Bob showed them the Moon in the 25.4cm Dobsonian, using the 17mm Nagler eyepiece (66X), and invited the visitors to image the Moon with their cell phone cameras. He then swapped in the 6mm Ortho eyepiece (186X) for greater magnification on the Moon and a good view of Jupiter. He also showed a few visitors the star Capella. Finally, Bob directed the 25.4cm Dobsonian towards Mars, which made a satisfying view (186X) in the eastern sky.

Everybody was gone by around 9:00 p.m. after expressing their deepest thanks for a very enjoyable and informative evening of astronomy.