Partly cloudy skies with some hazy clouds greeted 5 RASC London Centre members for the Sparks Star Night at Camp Orenda, Saturday, April 25th, 2015, 8:00 p.m. They were greeted by 12 Sparks (ages 5-6) and their parents (12 adults) of Sparks Unit 119, who were in the Chapandale Building, and 5 Rangers for a total of 29 people. Camp Orenda is on Truman Line Road, east off Highbury Avenue south of London towards St. Thomas. Bob Duff set up his Meade Starfinder 8 (203mm) Newtonian on its Dobsonian mount; Steve Imrie, his Orion SkyQuest 8-inch (203mm) Dobsonian; Rick Saunders, his 80mm Stellarvue Night Hawk refractor on a Sky-Watcher HEQ-5 equatorial mount; and Norman McCall, with his Explore Scientific 152mm Maksutov-Newtonian Comet Hunter.
While other RASC London Centre members were setting up their telescopes outside, London Centre member and Western University Astronomy graduate student Emily McCullough greeted the Sparks in the Chapandale Building. Emily did some activities to help five and six year olds understand the astronomical objects they would later view through telescopes. They examined posters of the Sun and planets and their moons, with special attention to Jupiter and Venus. They acted out the solar system showing where the planets were in relation to each other and the stars. After seeing Jupiter and its Galilean moons through the telescopes, the girls were interested in again looking at the NASA images of these moons and comparing them with the Earth and our Moon.
Bob began by showing them the first quarter Moon in his 203mm Dobsonian telescope, with a Meade MA25mm eyepiece (49X) and soon swapped in his 7mm Nagler eyepiece (174.3X) for a better view. Everybody was impressed by the craters and remarkable detail visible on the Moon’s surface. Bob then showed them Venus and Jupiter, which were impressive in his telescope, using the 7mm Nagler eyepiece (174.3X). The double stars Castor (in the constellation Gemini) and Algieba (in Leo) were later nicely split in Bob’s 203mm Dobsonian telescope.
Steve Imrie showed everybody the Moon, Venus and Jupiter in his Orion SkyQuest 8-inch (203mm) Dobsonian, using a 25mm eyepiece (48X) and doubling the magnification with a 2X Barlow lens (96X). Rick Saunders showed them Jupiter, Venus and the Moon in his 80mm Stellarvue Night Hawk refractor. Norman McCall also showed them the Moon, Venus and Jupiter in his Explore Scientific 152mm Maksutov-Newtonian Comet Hunter.
Rick observed the Iridium flare around 9:46 p.m. but this was not seen by either Steve or Bob. The Sparks were gone by around 9:30 p.m. with RASC London Centre members packing and leaving around 10:00 p.m. after an enjoyable evening of astronomy for everybody.