Cloudy skies with rain showers greeted 74 visitors (including 39 children and 35 adults) from the University Heights Public School, Grade 5/6 class, for Exploring the Stars at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Tuesday, November 8th, 2016, 7:00 p.m. Graduate student Robin Arnason presented the digital slide presentation “Extra Solar Planets” and fielded questions. Robin followed this with the activity “Kitchen Comet,” building a model comet with dry ice and other materials on a table set up at the front of the lecture room.
RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark and Bob Duff. When everybody arrived upstairs in the dome, Bob gave a talk on the history of the Cronyn Observatory and some of the technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor, showing them the 25.4cm objective lens and demonstrating the telescope with the 32mm eyepiece (137X). Bob described the Schmidt Camera and Cassegrain reflector telescope piggy-backed on the 25.4cm refractor. Bob also explained the 2 clocks on the east wall of the dome and the difference between Standard and Sidereal Time.
Since rain showers ruled out opening the dome Bob supervised as visitors viewed the Western Sports & Recreation Centre through the observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope set up inside the dome so as to view out the door to the roof patio—swapping in the 26mm Plossl eyepiece (77X), in place of the 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece (160X), for a better view.
The rain showers eased and Everett set up the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X) on the roof patio outside the dome to show visitors the wind turbine on the Engineering building and later the one-day-past-first quarter Moon, visible through thin moving clouds. The visitors were invited to “walk on the Moon” by stepping on lunar meteorite sample in a small plastic display case placed in a wooden block and protected with a transparent Lexan polycarbonate sheet cover. (The lunar meteorite sample in the display case and wooden block was provided by RASC London Centre member Paul Kerans.)
The children and adults asked many good questions and everybody was appreciative the excellent slide lecture on how exoplanets are discovered and the planets discovered so far, the comet making activity with dry ice and observing the Moon through a telescope, despite the unpromising weather. The visitors were gone by around 9:00 p.m.