Exploring the Stars, King’s University College Foundations and King’s Scholar Programs, January 31st, 2018

A cloudy, later clearing, slightly hazy sky greeted 25 visitors (students and a faculty member) from the King’s University College Foundations and King’s Scholar programs, for Exploring the Stars at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Wednesday, January 31st, 2018, 7:00 p.m. Graduate student Amanda DeSouza presented the digital slide presentation “The Earth Moon System” and fielded questions. The visitors then divided into 2 groups with Amanda taking one group downstairs into the “Black Room” for the “Transit Demonstration” activity and the “Spectroscopy Demo.” The other group went with RASC London Centre member Bob Duff upstairs into the dome. The 2 groups later exchanged places between the “Black Room” and the dome.

When the first group arrived upstairs in the dome, Bob began with a talk on the history of the observatory and technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor. The door to the observation deck was open and one of the visitors called everybody’s attention to the full Moon visible in the hazy but clearing sky, and asked if it could be observed through the telescope. Bob directed the big 25.4cm refractor towards the Moon in the eastern sky, installing the 17mm Nagler eyepiece (258X). Bob later swapped in the 52mm Erfle eyepiece (84X) into the 25.4cm refractor, for a sharper view of the Moon in the hazy sky. The visitors were delighted to view the Moon through the telescope and Bob continued with his talk, explaining the Schmidt Camera and Cassegrain Reflector telescope piggy-backed on the 25.4cm refractor as well as the 2 clocks on the east wall of the observatory and the difference between Standard and Sidereal Time.

Bob gave his talk to the second group when they arrived in the dome and the first group had gone downstairs into the “Black Room.” He hauled out the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian, setting it up on the observation deck and installing the 18mm Radian eyepiece (62X). Bob explained the difference between a reflector and refractor telescope and the visitors from the first group came back upstairs to enjoy the view of the Moon through the 25.4cm Dobsonian. Bob also showed one visitor, Sirius and Betelgeuse through the 25.4cm Dobsonian. At the request of a visitor, Bob reinstalled the 17mm Nagler eyepiece in the 25.4cm refractor for a higher magnification (258X) view of the Moon, which was now higher in the sky and looked somewhat sharper, despite the hazy clouds.

Downstairs in the “Black Room” Amanda did the “Transit Demonstration” activity twice, once for each group, showing them the “Transit Demo” model—demonstrating the transit detection method for finding extra-solar planets. She also did the “Spectroscopy Demo,” twice, once for each group, with the visitors putting on the diffraction grating glasses to view the spectra of 4 gas discharge lamps set out on the table, including: hydrogen, helium, neon and mercury.

Bob gave a copy of the RASC London Centre’s newsletter, Polaris (December 2017) to the King’s University College faculty member leading the group. The visitors were gone just before 9:00 p.m. after expressing their thanks for a very interesting and enjoyable evening of astronomy.