Exploring the Stars, Ingersoll Calvinist Cadet Corp, February 25th, 2016

Cloudy skies and cold weather greeted 14 visitors (10 children and 4 adults) from the Ingersoll Calvinist Cadet Corp for Exploring the Stars at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Thursday, February 25th, 2016, 7:00 p.m. Graduate student Laura Lenkic presented the Exploring the Stars digital slide presentation “The Basics” and fielded questions. Laura followed this with the “Constellations Activity”, distributing 14 “Star Finder” planispheres and showing the visitors how to assemble them with transparent adhesive tape. 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, later joined around 7:40 p.m. by Bob Duff. Everett opened the dome and made ready the 25.4cm refractor (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 137X), directing it towards a flashing red light on the communications tower in south London. Everett also set up the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X) inside, later moving it outside the dome on to the roof patio, where he directed it towards the wind turbine on the Engineering building.

When everybody arrived upstairs Bob gave a talk on the history of the Cronyn Observatory and some of the technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor. Bob used his green laser pointer to show the visitors the finderscopes while Everett pulled down the main telescope to show them the 25.4cm lens. Bob also explained how a reflector telescope worked, using his green laser pointer to show them the Cassegrain reflector and Schmidt camera piggy-backed on the 25.4cm refractor.

At Laura’s suggestion the visitors formed 2 groups with one going outside to view the wind turbine through the 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X), supervised by Everett. Bob supervised from near the top of the observing ladder as the children and adults in the second group climbed the steps to view the flashing red light on the communications tower in south London through the 25.4cm refractor (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 137X). Bob later took over the 25.4cm Dobsonian from Everett for a short time. Both groups had the opportunity to view through both telescopes.

The visitors took 7 “Getting Started in Astronomy” (RASC, SkyNews [2015]) pamphlets, of the 20 that Everett had laid out beside the computer on the table in the dome. Everybody was very appreciative of this enjoyable evening learning about astronomy and telescopes, despite the cloudy sky, and they were gone by around 8:50 p.m.