Science Rendezvous at Western University, Saturday, May 12th, 2018

Cloudy skies and rain, with clearing later in the afternoon, greeted visitors to Science Rendezvous held at Western University’s TD Stadium on Saturday, May 12th, 2018, 10:00 a.m.—4:00 p.m. This was the second time Western University participated in this nationwide event, bringing hands-on science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) activities to children. Cronyn Observatory Director Professor Jan Cami was the main organizer of the event and chair of the Organizing Committee, with Postdoctoral Fellow Dilini Subasinghe as co-chair. Centre for Planetary Science and Space Exploration (CPSX) Outreach Program Coordinator and PhD graduate Parshati Patel coordinated the CPSX booths.

Graduate students Viraja Khatu and Shannon Hicks set up the Solar Observing booth with the help of RASC London Centre volunteers Everett Clark, Heather MacIsaac, Henry Leparskas and Norm McCall, later joined by Bob Duff around 1:45 p.m. Shannon left around 12 noon. Heather provided a canopy for the booth and set up her Celestron NexStar 90SLT 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain (32mm Plossl eyepiece, 39X). Norm McCall set up his Explore Scientific 152mm Maksutov-Newtonian Comet Hunter. Everett and Viraja set up the Cronyn Observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain (20mm Plossl eyepiece, 100X). Since it was cloudy, all 3 telescopes were directed towards the large bird’s nest on top of one of the floodlight towers overlooking the TD Stadium. Henry Leparskas was the event photographer and identified the birds as ospreys, a type of hawk. When the sky partially cleared to a few hazy clouds around 2:30 p.m., Heather installed a Kendrick Astro Baader film solar filter on her 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain and Norm installed a similar solar filter on his 152mm Maksutov-Newtonian. There was one very small sunspot visible on the Sun through these telescopes.

Viraja and Bob also set up the Cronyn Observatory’s 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope on the Sky-Watcher EQ5 mount, installing the CEMAX 25mm eyepiece (32X) which showed a couple of prominences on the Sun’s edge and some mottling on the surface. Bob later swapped in the CEMAX 18mm eyepiece (44X) to show visitors a better view of the Sun. The battery supply soon failed and Bob had to constantly re-centre the Sun in the 90mm Coronado’s field of view.

The Science Rendezvous event at Western’s TD Stadium was over by around 4:10 p.m. The number of visitors was estimated to be around 800—1,000 people for the entire event, although cloudy skies for a good part of the day meant that only a relatively small number of people were able to view the Sun through the telescopes.