Exploring the Stars, St. Anthony French Immersion Catholic School, December 6th, 2017

Partly cloudy skies greeted 47 visitors (45 children and 2 teachers) from St. Anthony French Immersion Catholic School (Grade 6), for Exploring the Stars at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Wednesday, December 6th, 2017, 11:00 a.m.—1:00 p.m. Graduate student Viraja Khatu presented the digital slide presentation “The Small Bodies in Our Solar System” and fielded questions. She followed this with the activity “Kitchen Comet,” making a comet from dry ice and other materials on a table at the front of the lecture room.

RASC London Centre member Bob Duff set up the observatory’s 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope on the Orion equatorial mount (used with Orion AstroView 6 reflector telescope) on the observation deck outside the dome. He used the CEMAX 25mm eyepiece (32X) to locate the Sun in the 90mm Coronado’s field of view and then swapped in the CEMAX 18mm eyepiece (44X) for a better view of solar prominences. Bob also set up the observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain (26mm Plossl eyepiece, 77X), installing the Kendrick Baader film white light solar filter on the front of the telescope.

When everybody arrived upstairs in the dome, Bob gave a brief talk on the history of the Cronyn Observatory and technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor, with one of the teachers inviting the children to walk around in front of the telescope to see the 25.4cm objective lens. Bob used the 32mm Erfle eyepiece (137X) to demonstrate how the 25.4cm refractor telescope worked and explained how magnification was calculated. He briefly opened and rotated the dome to demonstrate how it worked.

Since clouds periodically obscured the Sun, Viraja suggested proceeding with solar observing. The children lined up under teacher supervision to go out on the observation deck and view the Sun through the 2 solar filtered telescopes. Viraja showed them prominences on the edge of the Sun through the 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope (44X) and Bob showed them the Sun in white light through the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain (77X), with the Kendrick Baader film solar filter. Everybody was gone by 1:00 p.m. after an enjoyable observatory visit to learn about astronomy and view the Sun through solar filtered telescopes.