Exploring the Stars, Northdale Central Public School, January 31st, 2013

Hazy cloudy skies with occasional snow flurries greeted 49 visitors (26 children and 23 adults) from the Northdale Central Public School Grade-6 class (Dorchester) at the Cronyn Observatory for Exploring the Stars on Thursday, January 31st, 7:00 p.m. Graduate student Emily McCullough began the digital slide presentation, “The Solar System.”

She immediately stopped her presentation and brought everybody upstairs into the dome when RASC London Centre member Everett Clark advised her that the sky had cleared and Jupiter was visible. All the visitors had an opportunity to observe Jupiter through then hazy clouds in the big 25.4cm refractor (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 137X) and the Observatory’s Meade 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain (26mm Plossl, 77X), set up by Everett on the roof patio. They also observed the lights on the communications tower in south London through the Schmidt-Cassegrain when Jupiter was clouded out. RASC London Centre member Bob Duff arrived around 7:10 p.m. and joined the group in the dome.

Bringing the group back downstairs as it clouded over, Emily continued her slide talk to be advised again by Everett that Jupiter was visible. Observing Jupiter through the big 25.4cm refractor and the Schmidt-Cassegrain was brief, however, as the planet was again obscured by clouds, and Bob showed them the weathervane on the roof of the Engineering building through the Schmidt-Cassegrain. Emily brought them back downstairs to complete her slide presentation.

This was followed with the activity, “Kitchen Comet.” Emily invited the students to the front of the lecture room and, setting out the materials on the floor, involved the children in making a comet from dry ice, water, dirt and non-toxic glue (hydrocarbons). Clouds of CO2 vapour made for a convincing comet.
The evening ended around 9:00 p.m. and the visitors left after expressing their appreciation for a very enjoyable and informative evening.

Bob Duff
Higher Education Liaison
RASC London Centre