Exploring the Stars, Dorchester Brownies & Sparks, March 7th, 2016

Mostly clear skies greeted 51 visitors (25 children and 26 adults / leaders) from the Dorchester Brownies and Sparks for Exploring the Stars at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Monday, March 7th, 2016, 6:00 p.m. Graduate student Kendra Kellogg presented the digital slide presentation “Girl Guide Astronomy Badge” (title slide “The Basics”) and fielded questions. Kendra followed this with the “Constellations Activity”, distributing 25 “Star Finder” planispheres and showing the visitors how to assemble them. She then showed the visitors the slide “Reading a Star Finder” followed by several constellations slides from the astronomy software program “Stellarium” to help them learn how to use the planispheres.

RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Paul Kerans, Bob Duff, Tricia Colvin and Mark Tovey. Everett directed the big 25.4cm refractor (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 137X) towards the star Sirius in the still bright sky around 6:50 p.m. after sunset and swapped in the 18mm Radian eyepiece (244X) for a better view. Everett also set up the RASC London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X) and, later, the Cronyn Observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade 2080/LX3 Schmidt-Cassegrain on the roof patio outside the dome. Paul also set up his Nikon 10 X 50mm binoculars on his Orion Parallelogram Mount and tripod on the roof patio.

When everybody arrived upstairs in the dome, Bob gave a talk on some of the history of the Cronyn Observatory and technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor. Bob also explained the Standard and Sidereal Time clocks on the east wall. At Bob’s suggestion the leaders divided everybody into 2 groups, with the Brownies lining up in the dome to view through the big 25.4cm refractor and the Sparks going outside to view through the telescopes set up on the roof patio. The 2 groups later switched with the Sparks coming back inside the dome to view through the big 25.4cm refractor and the Brownies going outside to view through the telescopes on the roof patio.

Everett showed the visitors Sirius and later Jupiter through the 25.4cm refractor (18mm Radian eyepiece, 244X). On the roof patio outside the dome, Paul showed them Sirius, Jupiter and the Orion Nebula (M42) through the 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mmNagler eyepiece, 66X). They also viewed Jupiter through Paul’s Nikon 10 X 50mm binoculars on the parallelogram mount, which Bob supervised for a while and later redirected to show a few visitors M42. Tricia and Mark showed the visitors M42 through the 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain (12.5mm Ortho eyepiece, 160X).

The visitors took 3 of the “Getting Started in Astronomy” (RASC, SkyNews [2015]) pamphlets and 6 of the “Moon Gazers’ Guide” cards laid out by Paul beside the computer on the table in the dome. The visitors were gone by 8:00 p.m. after a very enjoyable evening of astronomy.