Exploring the Stars, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School, Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

Cloudy skies with some occasional light snow flurries greeted 5 visitors (4 students and one teacher) from the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School Grade-9 class for Exploring the Stars at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Tuesday, March 1st, 2016, 6:00 p.m. Graduate student Kendra Kellogg made 2 digital slide presentations, beginning with the presentation “Mars” and followed by the presentation “Telescopes.” Kendra fielded questions after the presentations.

RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Paul Kerans and Steve Gauthier, and they were soon joined by Bob Duff. The dome remained closed due to snowy conditions and Everett, Paul and Steve set up the observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian and Paul’s Nikon 10 X 50mm binoculars on his Orion Parallelogram Mount and tripod, all inside the dome for display.

When everybody arrived upstairs in the dome, Steve gave a talk on the technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor and the Cassegrain reflector and Schmidt camera piggy-backed on the main telescope. He also showed them the 25.4cm Dobsonian—with the 17mm Nagler eyepiece (66X) used for demonstration—and the 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain. He explained the difference between a refractor and reflector telescope and how each telescope worked. Showing them Paul’s 10 X 50mm binoculars on the parallelogram mount, Steve explained that binoculars were an excellent way to explore the sky and get started in astronomy. He also explained how the big 25.4cm telescope’s motor drive compensated for the Earth’s rotation as stars appeared to move from east to west across the sky and the difference between Standard and Sidereal Time, as shown on 2 the clocks on the east wall.

There were 5 “Moon Gazers’ Guide” cards, 5 “Getting Started in Astronomy” (RASC, SkyNews [2015]) pamphlets and 5 “The RASC General Assembly and AstroCATS, May 19—23, 2016” posters taken by the 4 students and the teacher. The visitors were gone by 8:00 p.m. after and enjoyable evening learning about astronomy and telescopes, despite the cloudy sky and snowy weather.