Exploring the Stars, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School, October 28th, 2014

Clear skies with some hazy clouds, later clearing, greeted 15 visitors (11 students and 4 adults) from the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School Grade-9 class for Exploring the Stars at the Cronyn Observatory, Tuesday, October 28th, 2014, 6:00 p.m. Graduate student Tony Martinez made the digital slide presentation “Telescopes” and then proceeded with his next presentation, “Mars”, and answered questions.

RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Tricia Colvin, Mark Tovey and Bob Duff. 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 and Everett operated the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome and began by showing the visitors the 5-day-past-new crescent Moon, using the 32mm Erfle eyepiece (137X). Everett soon swapped in the 18mm Radian eyepiece (244X) for a better view of the Moon through the 25.4cm refractor. The visitors also viewed the “Double Double” star system Epsilon Lyrae and the star Vega through the 25.4cm refractor (244X).

On the roof patio outside the dome Tricia operated the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian and showed the visitors the star Vega, the yellow and blue double star Albireo and the planet Mars, using the 17mm Nagler eyepiece (66X). Tony then took charge of the 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X) and located the Ring Nebula (M57) for the visitors. Bob also showed one lady the Moon through the 25.4cm Dobsonian (66X) towards the end of the evening.

Bob called everybody’s attention to an ISS pass, travelling from west to south, around 7:36—7:40 p.m., reaching 15 degrees maximum altitude (7:38 p.m.) in the southwest, with a brightness of -0.3 magnitude (as listed on the “Heavens Above, ISS – Visible Passes” Web site).

Everett reported that 1 “Star Finder” planisphere and 1 “Moon Gazers’ Guide” card were distributed. The visitors were gone by around 8:54 p.m. after a very enjoyable and informative evening of astronomy.