Ontario Association of Physics Teachers, Physics Camp: Solar Observing at the Cronyn Observatory, July 6, 2016

Partly cloudy skies greeted 20 visitors (17 teachers and 3 event organizers) from the Ontario Association of Physics Teachers (OAPT) Physics Camp for solar observing at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Wednesday, July 6th, 2016, 12:30—2:00 p.m. They were welcomed by Professors Sarah Gallagher and Pauline Barmby along with postdocs Parshati Patel and Aycha Tammour. Physics and Astronomy Department staff member Henry Leparskas was also there.

RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Paul Kerans, Bob Duff, Heather MacIsaac and Peter Jedicke. Everett set up both the observatory’s 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope, on its Sky-Watcher EQ5 mount, and 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain, with the Kendrick Astro Baader film solar filter, on the roof patio outside the dome.

Paul showed the teachers the Sun through the 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope, using the CEMAX 25mm eyepiece (32X) and later added the 2X Barlow lens (64X). Seeing conditions were good with prominences visible on the edge of the Sun as well as filaments and granulation noticeable on the solar surface. Everett showed the teachers the Sun through the 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain (26mm Plossl eyepiece, 77X). Heather MacIsaac showed the teachers the Sun through her Celestron Go-To 90mm Maksutov (32mm Plossl eyepiece, 39X) with Mylar solar film over the aperture. Peter Jedicke also set up the Sunspotter (provided by Fanshawe College). In the telescopes with the Baader and Mylar solar film filters the Sun was completely featureless with no sunspots visible.

Parshati Patel and later Henry Leparskas demonstrated to several small groups of teachers the “Sotellunium”—a mechanical eclipse demonstration model—which had been brought up from the “Period Room” and set up on the table beside the computer in the dome. Professor Sarah Gallagher demonstrated a Moon phase activity—involving white Styrofoam balls placed on sticks and distributed to the teachers—that is used in both outreach events and in university astronomy classes to teach the phases of the Moon and discussed common student misconceptions about motions within the solar system.

There were 6 or more “Star Finder” planispheres and “Moon Gazers’ Guide” cards distributed. The teachers were gone by around 2:00 p.m. after thanking everybody for a very interesting and enjoyable afternoon of solar observing and learning about the Cronyn Observatory and the astronomy educational resources available.