Science Literacy Week at the Cronyn Observatory, Saturday, September 23rd, 2017

Generally clear skies greeted some 90 visitors for the Science Literacy Week celebration at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Saturday, September 23rd, 2017, 5:00—9:00 p.m. Science Literacy Week was a week-long celebration across Canada, September 18th—24th, 2017, showcasing the excellence of Canadian science. The event was hosted by Western University’s Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX) in partnership with the Department of Physics and Astronomy, The Planetary Society—London Chapter and RASC London Centre.

Scheduled activities for children and adults included the (1) Space Science Challenge: 5:30 p.m. for students in grade-7 and under; 6:00 p.m. for students in grade-8 and above; and 6:30 p.m. for adults; (2) Stargazing through the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome and amateur telescopes; (3) Hands on Activities, 5:00—8:00 p.m.; (4) Edible Rock Analysis; (5) “Spectroscopy Demo”; (6) Arts and Crafts for children; (7) Historical Displays and Artifacts in the “Period Room”; Space-themed Book Display; and (8) Raffle Draw (with lots of prizes) at 7:00 p.m., following Space Science Challenge.

The event organizer was Western University PhD graduate in astronomy, Parshati Patel, who is Outreach Program Coordinator for Western’s Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX). Astronomy graduate student Viraja Khatu, who created the Space Science Challenge, worked with Parshati on this and the Raffle Draw. The Planetary Society—London Chapter, Outreach Coordinator Kayle Hansen was at the welcome table.

Downstairs in the “Black Room” undergraduate student Dana Beaton presided over the Edible Rock Analysis, next to the Space-themed Book Display. Astronomy graduate student Dan Hatfield did the “Spectroscopy Demo.” The Hands-on Activities were conducted downstairs. Visitors could also browse through the Historical Displays and Artifacts were in the adjacent “Period Room.”

Graduate student Jeff Vankerkhove was telescope operator in the dome. RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Peter Jedicke, Steve Gauthier, Steve Imrie, Henry Leparskas and Bob Duff. There was late afternoon solar observing on the observation deck outside the dome. Everett set up the observatory’s 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope (Sky-Watcher EQ5 mount), and took turns along with Jeff, Steve and Peter, showing visitors the Sun, using the CEMAX 25mm (32X) and 18mm (44X) eyepieces.

Jeff Vankerkhove operated the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome for the evening, showing visitors the 3-day-past-new crescent Moon (Meade 28mm Super Wide Angle eyepiece, 157X) and Saturn (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 258X). Steve Imrie operated the London Centre’s home-built 30.5cm Dobsonian showing visitors the Moon, the wind turbine on the Engineering building, and then Saturn, using the 17mm Nagler eyepiece (88X). Swapping in the 18mm Radian eyepiece (83X), Steve showed them M57, M31, Mizar and Alcor, M13 and Albireo through the 30.5cm Dobsonian. Everett Clark set up the observatory’s Orion AstroView 6 (15cm) Newtonian equatorial reflector and Bob Duff supervised for a while as visitors viewed the Moon and Saturn, using the 25mm (30X) and 10mm (75X) Plossl eyepieces, respectively.

RASC London members were still observing when Bob left the observatory around 10:20 p.m., long after the official closing time of 9:00 p.m. for this event.