International Observe the Moon Night at Cronyn Observatory, Saturday, September 19th, 2015

Cloudy, later clearing skies and a north wind greeted nearly 200 visitors to the Cronyn Observatory for the 6th annual International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN), Saturday, September 19th, 2015, 5:00—10:00 p.m. This worldwide celebration of the Moon was hosted locally by Western University’s Physics and Astronomy Department Exploring the Stars program, CPSX (Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration), CLRN (Canadian Lunar Research Network) and the London Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC London Centre).

Graduate students Parshati Patel (CPSX) and Bhairavi Shankar (CPSX and CLRN) were the event organizers and were joined by other graduate students including Dilini Subasinghe and Shannon Hicks, who operated the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome. Graduate student Laura Lenkic greeted visitors at the swag table (welcome table) along with Jake Hansen from the Planetary Society, London Chapter, who provided a lot of swag for the event.

RASC London Centre was represented Dale Armstrong, Peter Jedicke, Bob Duff, Paul Kerans, Charlene Kerans, Tricia Colvin, Mark Tovey, Dave McCarter, Mike Roffey and Ron Sawyer. London Centre member Richard Gibbens was also there and listened to the presentations. Physics and Astronomy Department computer resources person and RASC member Henry Leparskas was also there.

Children and adults were invited to examine a display of meteorites and Earth impact rocks on the in the slide lecture room and enter the astronomical art contest with paper and crayons. Kayle Hansen of the Planetary Society, London Chapter, and Patrick Hill were at the Meteorite Table. Downstairs in the basement CPSX graduate student Christy Caudill invited visitors to test their knowledge of Space Trivia, identifying pictures of craters in the solar system, and graduate student Tony Martinez supervised as young and old dropped objects into a pan of flour and cocoa in the Cratering Experiment.

Professor Jan Cami introduced Patrick Hill who made the first slide presentation, “The Moon and Its Origin” beginning 6:40 p.m. Zach Morse gave the next slide talk, describing his research on the giant impact crater Mare Orientale. Finally, RASC London Centre’s Peter Jedicke made his slide presentation on the forthcoming Total Lunar Eclipse, Sunday, September, 27th, 2015—for which there would be a Public Night at the Cronyn Observatory. 

Skies cleared as Parshati Patel announced the art prizes and Jan Cami conducted the raffle draw, which included an Apollo Lunar Module, a Galileoscope and a book by Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt, “Return to the Moon” (c2006).

Dilini and Shannon operated the 25.4cm refractor in the dome, showing visitors Saturn and the 2-day-prior-to-first quarter Moon (18mm Radian eyepiece, 244X) and the Moon also with the 32mm Erfle eyepiece (137X). On the roof patio outside the dome Tricia and Mark showed visitors the Moon in the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X). Dale operated the Cronyn Observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade 2080/LX3 Schmidt-Cassegrain showing people the Moon (26mm Plossl eyepiece, 77X), Albireo, the Wild Duck Cluster and M15. Dale also helped visitors take pictures of the Moon through the telescope eyepiece with their smartphones. Paul Kerans set up his Celestron 9.25-inch (235mm) Schmidt-Cassegrain on a Sky-Watcher EQ6 Equatorial mount and showed people the Moon (Tele Vue 21mm Ethos eyepiece, 112X) and M31 and M110 (31mm Ethos eyepiece, 76X).

Parshati counted 60 visitors around 6:00 p.m. and with more arrivals and departures Bob estimated some 160 people by mid-evening. There were perhaps close to 200 people by the time the Cronyn began closing down around 10:00 p.m.