Exploring the Stars, Chris’ Discipleship Group, April 12th, 2017

Clear, slightly hazy skies greeted 9 visitors from Chris’ Discipleship Group for Exploring the Stars at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Wednesday, April 12th, 2017, 8:00 p.m. Graduate student Jeff Vankerkhove presented the digital slide presentation “The Life and Times of Stars” and invited questions. Jeff then took the group downstairs into the “Black Room” where he did the“Transit Demonstration” activity, showing them the “Transit Demo” model—demonstrating the transit detection method for finding extra-solar planets.

RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark and Bob Duff. Everett made ready the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome, installing the 28mm Meade Super Wide Angle eyepiece (157X). When everybody arrived upstairs in the dome, Bob gave a talk on the history of the Cronyn Observatory and technical aspects of the 25.4cm refractor, and explaining the Schmidt Camera and Cassegrain Reflector telescope piggy-backed on the main telescope. Bob also explained the 2 clocks on the observatory’s east wall and the difference between Standard and Sidereal Time. Everett called everybody’s attention to a bright ISS pass travelling west-northwest to east-northeast, 8:58 p.m.—9:03 p.m., reaching a maximum altitude of 88 degrees, 9:01 p.m. (20:58:06—21:03:42; maximum altitude 88 degrees @21:01:22 [Source:Heavens Above, ISS – Visible Passes Web site]). The visitors were thrilled to see the ISS pass overhead from the roof patio outside the dome.

Everett operated the 25.4cm refractor (28mm Meade SWA eyepiece, 157X) for the evening, showing the visitors Jupiter, Sirius and Betelgeuse. The one-day-past-full Moon rose above the eastern horizon late in the evening but was too low in the sky to be viewed by anything other than the big refractor’s finderscope.

The visitors were gone by around 10:00 p.m. after thanking everybody for a very enjoyable evening learning about stars, the transit method for detecting extra-solar planets and viewing Jupiter and the stars through the big telescope.