Cloudy skies with occasional wet snow precipitation greeted 92 visitors (56 children and 36 adults) from Lester B. Pearson School for the Arts, Grade 6 class, for Exploring the Stars at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016, 7:00 p.m. The visitors filled the lecture room with many standing as graduate student Robin Arnason presented the digital slide presentation “Our Solar System” and fielded questions. Robin followed this with the activity “Kitchen Comet,” making a comet from dry ice and other materials on a table set up at the front of the lecture room.
RASC London Centre was represented by Bob Duff and Paul Kerans. When everybody arrived upstairs in the dome, Bob gave a talk about the history of the Cronyn Observatory and some of the technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor. Bob also explained the Schmidt camera and Cassegrain reflector telescope piggy-backed in the 25.4cm refractor, as well as the 2 clocks on the east wall of the dome and the difference between Standard and Sidereal Time.
Since cloudy damp snowy weather ruled out opening the dome, Bob invited the visitors to view the television screen visible in the windows of the Western Sports & Recreation Center through the observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope (20mm Plossl eyepiece, 100X) set up inside the dome so as to view out the door to the roof patio.
Paul Kerans returned the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X), which had also been set up in the dome, back to the storeroom since it was not being used. Paul showed visitors his chondrite (stony) and iron meteorites as well as his Moon meteorite sample in a small plastic display case. Paul had placed his lunar meteorite sample in a wooden block with a transparent Lexan polycarbonate sheet cover and he invited visitors to “walk on the Moon.”
The children asked many good questions and everybody appreciated the excellent slide lecture on the solar system, the comet making activity with dry ice, examining meteorites and viewing through a telescope, despite the cloudy damp snowy weather. Paul distributed one “Star Finder” planisphere early in the evening. The visitors were gone by around 9:00 p.m.