Exploring the Stars, Sir Arthur Currie Public School, Grade 6, April 3, 2018

Cloudy skies greeted 24 visitors, including 22 students and 2 adults (the teacher and one parent volunteer), from the Sir Arthur Currie Public School, Grade 6, for Exploring the Stars at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Tuesday, April 3, 2018, 11:00 a.m. Graduate student Jeff Vankerkhove presented the digital slide presentation “Our Star: The Sun” and fielded questions. This was followed by the “Building Sundial” activity, with Jeff demonstrating how to cut out and assemble a sundial from a pattern on a printed sheet of paper (with the caption “I Tell Only Sunny Hours”) and then helping the students cut out and assemble their own sundials.

RASC London Centre was represented by Henry Leparskas and Bob Duff. Since cloudy skies ruled out solar observing and the weather forecast was for rain in the afternoon, Henry set up the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian inside the door to the observation deck so as to view the wind turbine on the Engineering building. Bob installed the observatory’s 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope (CEMAX 25mm eyepiece, 32X) on the Sky-Watcher EQ5 mount and, together with Henry, set up the Meade 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain (20mm Plossl eyepiece, 100X) inside the dome so as to view the communications tower in south London through the door to the observation deck. Henry opened the dome and directed the big 25.4cm refractor towards the communications tower in south London, installing the Meade 28mm Super Wide Angle eyepiece (157X).

When the visitors arrived upstairs in the dome, Bob gave a talk on some of the history of the observatory and technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor. Bob briefly explained the difference between a refractor and the 25.4cm Dobsonian and 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain reflector telescopes, and called their attention to the 90mm Coronado H-Alpha telescope for observing the Sun. The students were then invited to view through the telescopes. Henry supervised as they climbed the observing ladder to view the communications tower through the 25.4cm refractor. Bob supervised as they viewed the tower through the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain and the wind turbine through the 25.4cm Dobsonian. Jeff demonstrated the 90mm Coronado H-Alpha telescope on the computerized Sky-Watcher EQ5 mount to interested students. Bob briefly explained to the teacher the 2 clocks on the east wall and the difference between Standard and Sidereal Time.

Jeff then brought everybody downstairs into the “Black Room” where he did the “Spectroscopy Demonstration,” with the visitors putting on diffraction grating glasses to view the spectra of 4 gas discharge lamps, including: hydrogen, helium, neon and mercury. Jeff brought everybody back upstairs into the lecture room where he had them fill out feedback forms. The visitors were gone by around 1:00 p.m., after an interesting and enjoyable observatory visit, learning about the Sun, sundials, telescopes and spectroscopy.