Exploring the Stars, Jeanne Sauvé French Immersion Public School, March 12th, 2015

Clear skies greeted 27 visitors from Jeanne Sauvé French Immersion Public School Grade-6 class, including 13 students and one younger (Grade-4) sibling and 13 adults for Exploring the Stars at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Thursday, March 12th, 2015, 7:00 p.m. Graduate student Parshati Patel made the digital slide presentation “Our Solar System + The Small Bodies in Our Solar System” and fielded questions. Parshati followed this with the activity “Kitchen Comet”, inviting the students 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, Mark Tovey, Tricia Colvin and Bob Duff. Tricia, Mark and Everett made ready and directed the big 25.4cm refractor (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 137X) in the dome towards Venus. They also set up the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X) and Observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade 2080/LX3 Schmidt-Cassegrain on the east and west sides, respectively, of the roof patio outside the dome—directing them towards Jupiter. When everybody arrived upstairs in the dome, Bob gave a brief talk about the Cronyn Observatory, including some technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor, and explained the Standard and Sidereal Time clocks on the east wall.

Bob suggested that everybody split into 2 groups and this was accomplished with the girls remaining inside to view Venus through the big 25.4cm refractor (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 137X) and the boys heading outside on the roof patio to view through the 2 amateur telescopes. The 2 groups circulated inside and outside the dome so that everybody had the opportunity to view through all 3 telescopes. Tricia supervised observing through the 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X), showing the visitors splendid views of Jupiter and later the Orion Nebula (M42).

The Galilean moon Io was transiting Jupiter and Bob noticed the tiny dark spot of Io’s shadow on Jupiter through the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain early in the evening. Bob swapped in the 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece (160X), in place of the 20mm Plossl (100X), for a better view through the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain for the visitors. Mark then supervised observing Jupiter through the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain. Mark had a lot of fun showing visitors Jupiter, telling them the name of each Galilean moon and making sure they saw Io’s shadow. The visitors were gone by 9:00 p.m. after expressing their thanks for an excellent evening of astronomy.