Fanshawe Conservation Area Star Night, August 25th, 2012

By Peter Jedicke, Edited by Robert Duff

Fanshawe Conservation Area hosted a star night at the boat launch just above Fanshawe Dam on Saturday evening, August 25th. Under clear skies, Peter Jedicke gave a slide show, "The Wonderful Heavens," including a tribute to Neil Armstrong. As suggested by the Armstrong family in a press release after Armstrong's death earlier in the day, star night attendees looked at the first quarter Moon and gave a wink in appreciation of Armstrong's accomplishment as first man to walk on the Moon. The show also featured an ISS pass in the southwest at 21:38 that was greeted with much enthusiasm and many questions.

Six London Centre members brought their telescopes. President Rick Saunders had his 9 ¼-inch (23.5cm) Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain and observed Saturn, Mars, the Moon, M31, M13, the Double Cluster and Albireo. Harold Tutt used his 80mm Stellarvue Night Hawk refractor to show approximately 15 to 20 persons the Moon, Mars, Saturn, Albireo, and Mizar & Alcor. Harold also pointed out the summer triangle and constellations such as Lyra and Cygnus. Gaëtan Godin set up his 20.3cm home-built Dobsonian with a 17mm eyepiece and 2x Barlow and looked at the Moon, Saturn, M13 and Albireo.

Saturn was low in the sky and thus a bit blurry but folks were excited nevertheless. M13 could only be resolved as a blurry area because of moonlight, but the Moon itself was the most popular target, followed by Albireo. One of the youngsters was interested in the Telrad and its aiming capabilities, so Gaëtan taught him how to use it and he aimed the scope at the Moon for some of the onlookers. Also, the laser pointer was a hit, as always. Gaëtan had some 30 to 40 persons look through his telescope, and even unpacked it again at about 23:15 for a couple of late arrivals who had never seen the Moon through a telescope.

Meanwhile, Mike Roffey used a 15cm Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain on a Vixen Porta II mount with both a 13mm (115X) and an 8mm (187X) Hyperion eyepiece. He showed the Moon, Saturn, Albireo and M13 to the guests, and pointed out Ursa Major and Polaris with a laser pointer. Everett Clark helped out with his 11.4cm Newtonian reflector, aiming it at the Moon and explaining basic telescope operation to some guests who brought 2 telescopes they had recently acquired but had no idea how to use.

New member Sabine and her father Attila were also present with her modest compound telescope on a tripod. In all, Peter estimated about 70 persons, mostly youngsters, attended the event, which wrapped up about 23:10.

Bob Duff
Higher Education Liaison
RASC London Centre