Hazy skies greeted 18 visitors, including 10 children (ages 6-14) and 8 adults, from the homeschoolers group Kids Learning Connections to the Cronyn Observatory for Exploring the Stars, Wednesday, January 28th, 6:30 p.m. Graduate student Dilini Subasinghe made the digital slide presentation “The Small Bodies in Our Solar System” and followed this with the activity “Kitchen Comet”, making a comet from dry ice and other materials.
Bringing everybody upstairs into the dome, Dilini gave a brief talk on the history of the Cronyn Observatory. She then showed them the 2-day-past-first quarter gibbous Moon through the big 25.4cm refractor (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 137X). However, Jupiter was too low in the eastern sky to observe at the time for the big 25.4cm refractor. The children were also interested in the sky charting software “Starry Night Pro” which Dilini had opened on the computer and they played with it while waiting to view through the telescope. The group was interested in seeing Comet Lovejoy but the sky became quite hazy while they were observing the Moon and the comet was not seen.
RASC London Centre member Tricia Colvin arrived around 7:40 p.m., although by this time half the visitors were gone and Dilini was in the process of closing down the telescope. Tricia stayed until everybody had left, talking with some of the visitors and showing them (not with a telescope, but pointing out) where Jupiter was in the sky. All the visitors were gone by 8:00 p.m. after an interesting evening of astronomy.