Western Sports Space Camp: Solar Observing at the Cronyn Observatory, August 30th, 2016

Partly cloudy skies with hazy clouds greeted 33 visitors (30 children and 3 adult / leaders)—including 22 children and 2 adult / leaders from the Western Sports Space Camp and 8 children and 1 adult / leader from the Mini-University Camp—for solar observing at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Tuesday, August 30th, 2016, 10:30 a.m. Professor Jan Cami made the digital slide presentation “Astronomy at Western” and fielded questions. The children were then divided into 2 groups with one group going upstairs into the dome and the other downstairs to see the “Transit Demo” in the “Black Room.”

Downstairs in the “Black Room” Jan made 2 demonstrations—one to each group—of the “Transit Demo” model—demonstrating the transit detection method for finding extra-solar planets. The 2 groups alternated between the dome and the “Black Room.”

RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Paul Kerans and Bob Duff. Physics and Astronomy staff member Henry accessed the NASA Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) Web site—with the image of “The Sun Now”—on the dome computer. When the first group arrived upstairs, Bob Duff opened the dome to allow in more light and gave a telescope talk about the observatory’s big 25.4cm refractor. Bob demonstrated the shutter on the Schmidt camera and called the visitor’s attention to the Cassegrain reflector—both piggy-backed on the big 25.4cm refractor.

Bob gave another telescope talk to the second group—who arrived upstairs from the “Transit Demo”—while the first group went out on the roof patio to observe the Sun through solar filtered telescopes and then downstairs for the “Transit Demo” in the “Black Room.” 

Paul showed the visitors the Sun through the 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope (Sky-Watcher EQ5 mount), using the CEMAX 18mm eyepiece (44.4X). Despite occasional hazy clouds prominences were visible on the edge of the Sun as well as mottling on the solar surface. Everett showed them sunspots on the Sun through the 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain (26mm Plossl eyepiece, 77X) with the Kendrick Astro Baader film white light solar filter. Paul later doubled the magnification in the 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope by combining the CEMAX 2X Barlow lens with the 18mm eyepiece (89X) to show a few visitors a better view of the Sun.

Jan distributed some 25—30 solar eclipse glasses to the visitors and Henry explained how to use them and to avoid scratching the solar film. They could keep or return the glasses as they wished and some returned the glasses.

The visitors were gone by around 11:30 a.m., after an interesting and enjoyable slide presentation about astronomy at Western, demonstrations of the “Transit Demo”—showing how extra-solar planets are detected—and observing the Sun through solar filtered telescopes.