Exploring the Stars, North Middlesex District High School, April 4th, 2013

Hazy clouds with some clear sky greeted 51 visitors (49 grade 9-10 students and 2 adults) from North Middlesex District High School for Exploring the Stars at the Cronyn Observatory, Thursday, April 4th, 2013, 7:00 p.m. Graduate student Allison Hill made the digital slide presentation, “Our Messy Solar System,” and answered questions.

Everett Clark and Bob Duff represented the RASC London Centre. Allison divided the students into 2 groups with one going upstairs, where Bob gave them a tour of the dome with a brief history of the Cronyn, explaining the technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor. He also showed them the 2 clocks on the wall and explained standard and sidereal time.

Allison did the activity “Crater Experiment” with the other group downstairs on the lecture room floor, pouring flour and cocoa into an aluminum tray and dropping objects into it to demonstrate how craters are formed. The 2 groups then switched with Allison and Bob again doing the “Crater Experiment” and dome tour, respectively.

Bob managed to locate Jupiter with the 10 X 50mm binoculars in the still bright early evening sky and eventually it was visible to the unaided eye. Everett and Allison showed the visitors Jupiter in the big 25.4cm refractor, using the 32mm Erfle eyepiece (137X). Everett announced that there would be an Iridium flare and it appeared on time at 8:23 p.m. high in the still bright south-eastern sky. The visitors were impressed.

On the roof patio outside the dome, Bob showed them Jupiter in the 25.4cm Dobsonian and soon swapped out the 17mm Nagler (66X) for the more powerful 6mm Ortho (186X) eyepiece. Everett also obtained an excellent view of Jupiter in the 25.4cm refractor, using the 18mm Tele Vue Radian eyepiece (244X). Everybody was gone by 8:50 p.m. after a very enjoyable and informative evening of astronomy.

Bob Duff
Higher Education Liaison
RASC London Centre