First-Year Students Evening Observing at the Cronyn Observatory, August 10th, 2016

Clear skies greeted some 38 visitors from the Summer Academic Writing Clinic for incoming first-year students, for evening observing at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Wednesday, August 10th, 2016, 8:30—11:00 p.m. Graduate student Shannon Hicks presented the digital slide presentation “Astronomy at Western” and answered questions. Downstairs in the “Black Room” Shannon made 3 demonstrations of the “Transit Demo” model—demonstrating the transit detection method for finding extra-solar planets.

Shannon reported that there were some 30 students at the slide presentation with a maximum of 6 or 7 missing and the room almost full. There were at least 15 students for each of the first 2 demonstrations of the “Transit Demo” and 5 for the third “Transit Demo” demonstration. Therefore the estimated number of students is perhaps 36—37 students. RASC London Centre member Bob Duff counted 28 students in the dome and roof patio and Shannon indicated that 10 had left earlier, suggesting the number was closer to 38. Physics and Astronomy staff member Henry Leparskas thought the number closer to 28—30. However, the total of 36—37 students—possibly 38 students—seems more accurate.

RASC London Centre was represented by Paul Kerans, Bob Duff and Heather MacIsaac. Henry Leparskas directed the big 25.4cm refractor (28mm Meade Super Wide Angle eyepiece, 157X) in the dome towards Jupiter early in the evening, using celestial coordinates provided by the software “Starry Night Pro” on the dome computer. He soon swapped in the 17mm Nagler eyepiece (258X) show the students a better view of Jupiter, and then Saturn, through the 25.4cm refractor. The globular cluster M13 was viewed later in the evening through the 25.4cm refractor, using the 28mm Meade SWA eyepiece (157X).

Henry also set up the observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain on the roof patio and Bob operated it for the evening, showing the students the first quarter Moon, using the 20mm Plossl eyepiece (100X). Bob also showed them Saturn and Mars, using the 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece (160X) in the 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain and then swapped in the 15mm Sky-Watcher UltraWide eyepiece together with the CEMAX 2X Barlow lens—from the observatory’s 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope—for a view of Mars at 266X.

Paul Kerans set up the observatory’s 15cm Orion AstroView 6 Newtonian reflector on the Sky-Watcher EQ5 mount and showed the students the Moon, Mars and Saturn, and later the Owl Cluster (NGC457), using the 10mm Plossl eyepiece (75X). Paul also showed them Mars and Saturn through the 15cm Orion Newtonian reflector, using the 10mm Plossl eyepiece together with the CEMAX 2X Barlow lens for a total magnification of 150X. Heather MacIsaac showed the students the Moon through her Celestron Go-To 90mm Maksutov, using her 32mm Plossl eyepiece (39X), and then Saturn and the stars Mizar and Alcor and Albireo, using the observatory’s 12.5mm Ortho eyepiece (100X).

There was an ISS pass observed (9:08—9:14 p.m.) travelling northwest to east northeast, reaching an altitude of 26 degrees above the north northeast horizon at 9:11 p.m. There was another ISS pass observed (10:44—10:47 p.m.) travelling west northwest to west, reaching and altitude of 55 degrees above the western horizon at 10:47 p.m. The students were present for the first ISS pass but were gone around by 10:30 p.m., after a very interesting and enjoyable evening of astronomy.