Exploring the Stars, Saunders Secondary School, November 13th, 2014

Mostly clear skies greeted 19 visitors (13 children and 6 adults) from Saunders Secondary School Grade-9 class to the Cronyn Observatory for Exploring the Stars, Thursday, November 13th, 2014, 6:30 p.m. Since there was some concern as to whether the sky would remain clear, graduate student Parshati Patel directed everybody upstairs into the dome at the beginning of the evening for observing.

RASC London Centre was represented by Mark Tovey, Bob Duff and Tricia Colvin. When everybody arrived upstairs in the dome, Bob gave a talk on the history of the Cronyn Observatory and the 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.

Mark arrived early and set up the Observatory’s 20.3cm Meade 2080/LX3 Schmidt-Cassegrain (26mm Plossl eyepiece, 77X) and London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X) on the roof patio outside the dome. He worked between both telescopes showing the visitors the yellow and blue double star Albireo in the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain and Mars in the 25.4cm Dobsonian. When Tricia arrived they shared duties with Tricia taking over the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain and Mark the 25.4cm Dobsonian. Besides Mars, visitors viewed the star Capella in the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (66X). Bob later located the Ring Nebula (M57) in the 25.4cm Dobsonian (66X)—after installing the 8 X 50mm finderscope—for the visitors to view.

Parshati and Bob initially directed the 25.4cm refractor (52mm Erfle eyepiece, 84X) in the dome towards Albireo but this proved difficult to locate in the slightly hazy sky. Since Albireo was already being viewed in the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain, Bob located the “Double-Double” star system Epsilon Lyrae, which made a nice view in the 25.4cm refractor (18mm Radian eyepiece, 244X).

Bringing everybody back downstairs Parshati made the digital slide presentation “The Stuff of Stars”, explaining how spectroscopy was used to study stars, and followed this with the activity “Kitchen Comet”, making a comet with dry ice and other ingredients on a table set up at the front of the lecture room. Everybody was very pleased with the observing session under clear skies and the interesting slide presentation and activity. The evening ended around 8:30 p.m. under clear skies.