Science Literacy Week at Cronyn Observatory, Saturday, September 24, 2016

Clear skies greeted some 250 visitors for the Science Literacy Week celebration at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Saturday, September 24th, 2016, 5:00—9:00 p.m. Science Literacy Week was an effort to showcase the excellence of science outreach institutions across Canada. The event was hosted by Western University’s Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX) in partnership with the Department of Physics and Astronomy and RASC London Centre.

Scheduled activities for children and adults included the (1) Space Science Challenge, 5:30 p.m. for children and 7:00—8:00 p.m. for adults; (2) Planet Walk across campus starting from the orange balloon, representing the Sun, on the front lawn of the observatory; (3) Stargazing through the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome and amateur telescopes; (3) Hands on Activities, including building model rockets and creating 3D celestial objects and spacecraft; (4) Arts and Crafts for children; (5) Historical Displays and Artifacts in the “Period Room”; (6) Space Books on display; and (7) a Raffle Draw, taking place at 7:00 p.m. before the Space Science Challenge (for adults).

RASC London Centre was represented by Rick Saunders, Peter Jedicke, Paul Kerans, Steve Gauthier, Bob Duff and Tricia Colvin. The visitors were welcomed in the lecture room by the event organizer and recent doctoral graduate, Parshati Patel, undergraduate student William Hyland and by RASC London Centre President Rick Saunders. There was a display table of take-away promotional materials provided by CPSX and the observatory. There was a raffle draw shortly after 7:00 p.m. conducted by Parshati and Rick, which included (1) a cardboard cut-out model of NASA’s Orion spacecraft, (2) a Galileoscope and (3) a 114mm (4.5-inch) Newtonian reflector donated by RASC London Centre Past President and now Public Outreach Coordinator Dave McCarter.

Graduate student Dilini Subasinghe was telescope operator for the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome and, beginning around 6:15 p.m., showed visitors the communications tower in south London. Dilini was later joined by Peter Jedicke in showing visitors Mars and the yellow and blue double-star Albireo through the big 25.4cm refractor (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 137X).

On the roof patio outside the dome, Bob Duff operated the observatory’s Meade 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain, showing visitors Mars and Saturn (12.5mm Ortho eyepiece, 160X) and Albireo (26mm Plossl eyepiece, 77X). Steve Gauthier operated the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian, showing visitors Mars and Saturn (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X) and M31 and M32, using his 35mm Panoptic eyepiece (32X). Paul Kerans set up his Celestron 9.25-inch (23.5cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain (Sky-Watcher EQ6 mount) and showed visitors Mars and Saturn (21mm Ethos eyepiece, 112X), and M13 and M57 (10mm Axiom LX eyepiece, 235X).

Downstairs in the “Black Room” children and adults were making paper model rockets and Tricia Colvin welcomed people to the historic “Period Room,” pointing out some artifacts. The visitors were mostly gone by around 9:00 p.m. after a very enjoyable evening of star gazing and astronomy and space activities.