Clear skies and cold weather greeted 10 visitors from the French language Monseigneur-Bruyere Catholic Secondary School (for Grades 7-12), including 7 students and 3 adults for Exploring the Stars at the Cronyn Observatory, Tuesday, January 13th, 2015, 6:30 p.m. Graduate student Shannon Hicks made the digital slide presentation “Extra Solar Planets” and fielded questions. Shannon followed this with the activity “Kitchen Comet”, inviting everybody to the table set up at the front of the lecture room where she created a comet from dry ice and other ingredients.
RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Tricia Colvin, Bob Duff and Dave McCarter. Dave brought the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian with a newly installed 2-inch focuser, replacing the old worn and damaged one. Before he left Dave located Comet Lovejoy with the 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X), which was west of Aldebaran and south of the Pleiades. Everett shovelled enough snow from the roof patio to set up the Observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade 2080/LX3 Schmidt-Cassegrain on the west side beside the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian.
When everybody arrived upstairs in the dome, Bob gave a talk on the history of the Cronyn Observatory and technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor. He also explained the 2 clocks on the east wall of the dome and the difference between Standard and Sidereal Time. Ice and snow prevented the dome from being opened and Tricia supervised as visitors viewed Comet Lovejoy through the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X). Clouds of steam from Western University’s heating plant towards the east interfered with observing Comet Lovejoy and at one point Tricia lost Comet Lovejoy and then recovered it again. Since it was impossible to view the Orion Nebula (M42) because of the clouds of steam from the heating plant, Bob showed visitors the star Sirius—twinkling brightly, low in the southeast— through the 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade 2080/LX3 Schmidt-Cassegrain (26mm Plossl eyepiece, 77X). The visitors were gone by around 8:30 p.m. after a very enjoyable evening learning about astronomy and observing through telescopes.