Homecoming Weekend at Cronyn Observatory, Saturday, September 26th, 2015

Partly cloudy hazy skies greeted visitors to the Cronyn Observatory for solar observing in the afternoon and evening stargazing, Saturday, September 26th, 2015, 3:00—11:00 p.m. This was in celebrations of Western University’s Homecoming weekend, September 25th—27th, 2015.

Solar observing began around 3:00 p.m., in Western University’s Alumni/Thompson Parking Lot, on the wide brick-paved sidewalk on the south side of the Cronyn Observatory. RASC London Centre members with telescopes included Dale Armstrong, with his 80mm Vernonscope refractor and glass solar filter; Mike Costa, with his iOptron Solar 60 refractor; Harold Tutt, with his 80mm Stellarvue Nighthawk refractor and Baader film solar filter; and Bob Duff, with his 203mm Dobsonian and Kendrick Astro Baader film solar filter. Peter Jedicke set up the Sunspotter (provided by Fanshawe College) on a table and members gave out flyers explaining the upcoming lunar eclipse, Sunday, June 27th. Physics and Astronomy Department staff and RASC member Henry Leparskas was there taking pictures with his camera.

On the roof patio of the Cronyn Observatory event coordinator Professor Jan Cami supervised the set up of the Observatory’s Meade 8-inch (203mm) Model 2080/LX3 Schmidt-Cassegrain, with a Kendrick Astro Baader film solar filter; and the 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope on its Sky-Watcher EQ5 mount. RASC London Centre members Tricia Colvin and Mark Tovey assisted and showed visitors the Sun through these telescopes. They were joined by Paul Kerans who set up his 80mm refractor and glass solar filter on his EQ6 mount. 

Homecoming visitors were shown the Sotellunium, a mechanical eclipse demonstration model, set up on a table in the Cronyn Observatory’s slide lecture room and demonstrated by undergraduate student William Hyland. Some 50 people viewed the Sun through solar filtered telescopes on the sidewalk and another 50 on the Cronyn Observatory’s dome roof patio, for an estimated total of 100 visitors. Sunspots where visible in the white light / broadband filters as well as solar prominences in the 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope, despite the hazy clouds.

Evening observing began after 7:00 p.m. with a slide lecture by graduate student Shannon Hicks, “The Mystery of Eclipses”, before some 9 visitors. This was in anticipation of the total lunar eclipse occurring Sunday, September 27th, 2015. Upstairs in the dome, graduate students Tony Martinez, Dilini Subasinghe and Shannon took turns operating the 25.4cm refractor (52mm Erfle eyepiece, 84X) and showing people the one-day-prior-to-full gibbous Moon, as it rose above hazy clouds in the east.

There were 3 telescopes set up on the roof patio outside the dome, including London Centre member Patrick Whelan’s 10-inch (254mm) Meade LXD75 Schmidt-Newtonian on his home-built Dobsonian mount; and Paul Kerans’ 9.25-inch (235mm) Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain on his EQ6 mount; as well as the Observatory’s Meade 8-inch (203mm) Schmidt-Cassegrain. Tricia Colvin, Mark Tovey, Peter Jedicke, Mike Costa, Steve Gauthier, Harold Tutt and Bob Duff assisted and Tricia worked with Jan to set up the Observatory’s Celestron NexImage 5 Solar System Imager, installed on the Meade 8-inch (203mm) Schmidt-Cassegrain and connected to a laptop computer and large computer screen down in the lecture room to display the view through the telescope. They did eventually succeed in displaying a live image of the Moon on the laptop and large computer screen, in anticipation of the forthcoming lunar eclipse, Sunday, September 27th.

Paul showed visitors Saturn, M31 and M110, the Owl Cluster (NGC457), Albireo and M13 through his 9.25-inch (235mm) Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain (21mm Ethos eyepiece, 112X). Patrick Whelan showed visitors the Moon, Saturn and the Double Cluster (NGC869 and NGC884) in Perseus through his 10-inch (254mm) Meade LXD75 Schmidt-Newtonian. The Observatory closed down around 10:30 p.m. with some 47 visitors for the evening.