Ivey Summer Leadership Program, Special Event at the Cronyn Observatory, August 7th, 2017

A mostly clear sky greeted some 47 (40 students and 7 staff members) from the Ivey Summer Leadership Program, for a special event at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Monday August 7th, 2017, 8:30 p.m. The Ivey Summer Leadership Program is put on by the Ivey Business School at Western University and is an enrichment program for high school students going into grades 9—12. Graduate student Viraja Khatu presented the digital slide presentation “Mars” and fielded questions. Viraja then introduced the activity “Telescope Kits” showing the students how to assemble a simple telescope from a small reusable kit. Everybody then divided into 10 groups of 4 students, with each group assembling and testing a small telescope.

RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Heather MacIsaac, Peter Jedicke, Bob Duff and new youth member Jacob Renders and his father. When everybody arrived upstairs in the dome, Peter gave a talk on the history of the Cronyn Observatory and some of the technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor, as well as the Schmidt camera piggy-backed on the main telescope. Everett and Peter supervised as the students viewed Jupiter, Saturn and the full Moon through the 25.4cm refractor (Meade 28mm Super Wide Angle eyepiece, 157X).

There were 2 amateur telescopes set up on the observation deck outside the dome. Heather showed the students Jupiter and Saturn through her Celestron NexStar 90SLT 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain (17mm Plossl eyepiece, 73.5X) and the Moon (32mm Plossl eyepiece, 39X)—using a Celestron neutral density filter to reduce the Moon’s brightness to comfortable levels. Jacob operated the London Centre’s home-built 30.5cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 88X), showing the students Jupiter, Saturn, the star Arcturus, and the yellow and blue double-star Albireo. Peter called everybody’s attention to an International Space Station (ISS) pass (9:45—9:50 p.m.) reaching a maximum altitude of 44 degrees above the north northeast horizon at 9:48 p.m. (See: ISS – Visible Passes for London, Ontario, on Heavens Above: http://www.heavens-above.com/ )

Downstairs in the “Black Room” Viraja gave 2 demonstrations of the “Transit Demo” model—showing how the transit detection method worked for finding extra-solar planets. Bob Duff gave 2 demonstrations of the “Spectroscopy Demo” with the visitors putting on diffraction grating glasses to view the spectra of 4 gas discharge lamps set out on the table, including: hydrogen, helium, neon and mercury. The light of the artificial star went out during the “Transit Demo” with the first group of 20 students and Viraja simply explained the “Transit Demo” and did the “Spectroscopy Demo,” for the second group of students.

The visitors were gone by 10:30 p.m., after expressing their appreciation for a very interesting and enjoyable evening of astronomy.