Cloudy with snow flurries and later clearing skies greeted visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, April 9th, 2016, 8:00 p.m. Graduate student Dilini Subasinghe presented the digital slide presentation “The Kuiper Belt” before an audience of some 36 people and fielded questions. Other people arrived during the course of the evening for an estimated total of some 46 visitors, including 2 people who had to be turned away after the observatory closed—hopefully to return another time!
RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Paul Kerans, Mark Tovey, Tricia Colvin, Bob Duff, Steve Gauthier, Dale Armstrong and Peter Jedicke. Graduate student Kendra Kellogg was telescope operator and left early in the evening with Everett taking over the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome. When everybody arrived upstairs in the dome after Dilini’s slide presentation, Peter gave a talk on the technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor, also explaining the Schmidt camera and Cassegrain reflector telescope piggy-backed on the big telescope. Peter also talked about some of the history of the Cronyn Observatory and explained the amateur telescopes set up inside the dome, including the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian and the observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade 2080/LX3 Schmidt-Cassegrain and Orion AstroView 6 (15cm) Newtonian reflector. These amateur telescopes were taken outside the dome on to the roof patio as the sky cleared.
Everett operated the big 25.4cm refractor (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 137X), showing visitors the 2-day-past-new crescent Moon and Jupiter. Peter later directed the 25.4cm refractor (52mm Erfle eyepiece, 84X) towards the Orion Nebula (M42). Dale also directed the 25.4cm refractor (52mm Erfle eyepiece, 84X) towards the star cluster M35 in Gemini. Steve operated the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X) showing visitors the Moon and Jupiter, also swapping in his 9mm Nagler eyepiece (124X) to show them good views of Jupiter, M42 and the star Sirius.
Dale showed visitors Jupiter through the observatory’s 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade 2080/LX3 Schmidt-Cassegrain (26mm Plossl eyepiece, 77X). The observatory’s Orion AstroView 6 (15cm) Newtonian reflector had been set up in the dome early in the evening for display and directed towards the TV screen visible in the windows of the Western Student Recreation Centre but was otherwise not taken outside for observing. Paul showed visitors 4 meteorites that he had brought including a stony-iron and an iron / nickel meteorite, as well as samples of Moon and Mars meteorites in small display cases. The visitors were gone by around 10:30 p.m. after a very enjoyable evening of astronomy under unexpected clear skies.