Exploring the Stars, Northdale Central Public School, January 20th, 2015

Clear skies and cold weather greeted 38 visitors (24 children and 14 adults) from the Northdale Central Public School (Dorchester) Grade-6 class for Exploring the Stars at the Cronyn Observatory, Tuesday, January 20th, 2015, 7:00 p.m. Graduate student Tony Martinez made the digital slide presentation “Our Solar System”.  Tony followed this with the activity “Kitchen Comet”, creating a comet from dry ice and other ingredients. Visiting Astronomy 2021 student Mike Labiak was interested in volunteering and assisted Tony by bringing more water to get the dry ice and other comet ingredients to stick together. The comet billowed clouds of water vapour, condensed from the extremely cold carbon dioxide gas evaporating from the dry ice—much to the delight of the visitors!

RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Tricia Colvin and Bob Duff. Everett made ready the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 137X), directing it towards the Pleiades (M45) star cluster. Everett also set up the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece (66X). Tricia located Comet Lovejoy with the 25.4cm Dobsonian, which made a fine sight in the 17mm Nagler eyepiece (66X) field of view. Bob redirected the 25.4cm refractor towards the Orion Nebula (M42) and installed the 2-inch Orion UltraBlock Narrowband Light Pollution filter in the 32mm Erfle eyepiece (137X) to improve contrast.

When the visitors 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 Standard and Sidereal Time clocks on the east wall. Bob then invited everybody to form 2 groups with one going out on the roof patio where Tricia supervised as they viewed Comet Lovejoy through the 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X). The other group viewed the Orion Nebula (M42) through the big 25.4cm refractor (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 137X) supervised by Everett. The visitors were able to view the Orion Nebula and Comet Lovejoy as they went inside and outside the dome to view through both telescopes. The visitors were gone by around 8:30 p.m. after a very enjoyable evening of astronomy.