Exploring the Stars, Canadian Association for Girls in Science – London Chapter, March 31st, 2016

Cloudy skies with rain later in the evening greeted 24 visitors (12 children and 12 adults) from the Canadian Association for Girls in Science – London Chapter, for Exploring the Stars at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Thursday, March 31st, 2016, 6:00 p.m. The event began at 6:15 p.m. Graduate student Shannon Hicks presented the digital slide presentation “Girl Guide Astronomy Badge” (title slide “The Basics”) and fielded questions. Shannon followed this with the activity “Kitchen Comet”, inviting the visitors to the table set up at the front of the lecture room where she made a comet from dry ice and other materials.

RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Paul Kerans and Bob Duff. The dome remained closed since rain was expected. Everett set up the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X) on the roof patio, later moving it inside the dome to avoid impending rain. When everybody arrived upstairs in the dome, Bob gave a talk on the history of the Cronyn Observatory and technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor, using his green laser pointer to indicate the 25.4cm objective lens and finderscopes. Bob used his green laser pointer to show them the Cassegrain reflector and Schmidt camera piggy-backed on the 25.4cm refractor and explained how the 25.4cm Dobsonian reflector telescope worked. Bob also explained the Standard and Sidereal Time clocks on the east wall.

Bob supervised as the visitors viewed the wind turbine on the roof of the Engineering building through the 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mmNagler eyepiece, 66X), set up just inside the door to the roof patio. There were many good questions asked by the visitors. Shannon showed some of the girls and parents the “Starry Night Pro” software on the dome computer and talked about how to use it to locate stars and planets. Paul showed visitors 4 meteorites that he had brought including a stony-iron and an iron / nickel meteorite, as well as samples of Moon and Mars meteorites in small display cases. The visitors were gone by around 8:08 p.m. after a very enjoyable evening learning about astronomy and telescopes, despite the cloudy sky.