Mostly cloudy skies greeted 8 visitors (7 children and 1 adult) from a Brownie group for Exploring the Stars at the Cronyn Observatory, Tuesday, November 25th, 2014, 6:30 p.m. Graduate student Shannon Hicks made the digital slide presentation “Extra Solar Planets” and fielded questions. Shannon followed this with the activity “Kitchen Comet,” asking the children if they knew what a comet was and showing a picture of comets on the projection screen. A little boy in the group answered and said that comets were made of ice. Shannon then invited everybody to the table at the front of the lecture room where she made a comet with dry ice, chocolate powder and other ingredients.
RASC London Centre was represented by Tricia Colvin, Mark Tovey and Bob Duff. Tricia set up the RASC London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X) just inside the dome door to the roof patio so as to view a compressed gas canister visible in an Engineering building window. Bob accompanied everybody upstairs into the dome and 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 of the dome and the difference between Standard and Sidereal Time. Bob demonstrated the telescope’s motor drive, explaining how it tracked the stars moving from east to west across the sky, and rotated the dome after Tricia removed the counterweight on the chain so it could be opened.
Bob redirected the 25.4cm Dobsonian towards on the communications tower in south London. Tricia supervised as the visitors viewed the red and white lights on the communications tower and then redirected the 25.4cm Dobsonian so that they could view the compressed gas canister visible in a window of the Engineering building. Mark also showed the children the amateur telescopes and large framed photographic portrait of the Moon stored in the dome’s dark room. The visitors were gone by around 8:30 p.m. after and interesting and enjoyable evening of astronomy despite the mostly cloudy sky.