SHAD: Solar Observing at the Cronyn Observatory, July 12th, 2017

Cloudy skies with some light rain greeted 79 visitors (including 68 students and 11 adults) from the SHAD program, for solar observing at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Wednesday, July 12th, 2017, 2:00 p.m. The SHAD program is for highly gifted high school students from across Canada. They were welcomed in the lecture room by Professor Jan Cami who presented a digital slide presentation on “Astronomy and Space Research at Western.” After the slide presentation the students were then divided into 2 groups of about 30 each, with one group going upstairs into the dome and the other downstairs into the “Black Room” and “1940s Period Room.”

Downstairs in the “Black Room” Jan demonstrated the “Transit Demo” model—showing how the transit detection method worked for finding extra-solar planets, as well as 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. Jan also gave tours of the “1940s Period Room,” an historic recreation (designed by RASC London member Mark Tovey) of Dr. H. R. Kingston’s 1940 office with his brass refractor and the Sotellunium—a mechanical eclipse demonstration model built by W. G. Colgrove—on display.

RASC London Centre was represented by Paul Kerans and Heather MacIsaac. Together with graduate student Viraja Khatu, they showed the visitors the different telescope in the dome. Cloudy skies ruled out solar observing. Paul set up the observatory’s 90mm Coronado H-Alpha solar telescope (Sky-Watcher EQ5 mount) and the London Centre’s home-built 30.5cm Dobsonian on display inside the dome, which remained closed due to weather conditions. Viraja set up the observatory’s Orion AstroView 6 (15cm) Newtonian reflector, with the CEMAX 12mm eyepiece (62.5X)—from the observatory’s 90mm Coronado H-Alpha solar telescope—installed, and Jan directed it so as to view the communications tower in south London, through the door to the observation deck. Paul also set up the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X) inside the door so as to view the wind turbine on the Engineering building. Heather set up her Celestron Go-To 90mm Maksutov (32mm Plossl eyepiece, 39X) inside the door so as to view the communications tower in south London. Viraja, Paul and Heather welcomed each of the 2 groups of students as they circulated between the downstairs “Black Room” and “1940s Period Room” and the dome.

Paul gave a talk to each group, when they arrived, on the history of the Cronyn Observatory and technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome. He also explained the difference between the Dobsonian reflector telescope and the refractor. Heather explained the 2 clocks on the east wall and the difference between Standard and Sidereal Time. They invited the students to look though the telescopes that had been set up inside the dome. The event was over by around 4:00 p.m. with the students having enjoyed the demonstrations in the “Black Room” and tours of the “1940s Period Room” and observatory dome.