Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, July 4th, 2015

Clear hazy skies greeted some 104 visitors to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, July 4th, 2015, 8:30 p.m. Graduate student Emily McCullough made her digital slide presentation “Pluto”, featuring the latest pictures and data from the New Horizons spacecraft, due to make its flyby of Pluto on July 14th. There were some 80 visitors by the end of the first presentation around 9:15 p.m. and Emily made her slide presentation 3 times during the course of the evening, inviting later arrivals down from the dome as well as those just coming in the door.

Graduate student Collin Knight was telescope operator for the evening and directed the big 25.4cm refractor in the dome towards Venus in the western sky. RASC London Centre was represented by Steve Gauthier, Bob Duff, Dale Armstrong, Mark Tovey, Tricia Colvin, Everett Clark and Steve Imrie, as well as graduate student and RASC London Centre member Emily McCullough. 

Everett assisted Collin with the big 25.4cm refractor, showing visitors Venus (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 137X) and then Jupiter, swapping in the 18mm Radian eyepiece (244X) for a better view. Saturn made a splendid view in the big 25.4cm refractor with the 18mm Radian eyepiece (244X), with the Cassini Division in the rings and moon Titan clearly visible. 

Steve Gauthier and Bob set up the Observatory’s powered 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade 2080/LX3 Schmidt-Cassegrain on the roof patio outside the dome and Dale operated it, using the 15mm Sky-Watcher Ultra-Wide eyepiece and 2X Barlow lens (266X) to show visitors Saturn and the double-stars Izar and Albireo. (The 2X Barlow lens was from the 90mm Coronado H-Alpha Solar Telescope.) Dale later swapped in the 26mm Plossl (77X) and 15mm Sky-Watcher (133X) eyepieces, to show people the 3-day-past-full waning Moon rising in the east.

Tricia and Mark showed visitors Venus and Saturn in the 8-inch (20.3cm) Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain, which had no power supply using the 26mm Tele Vue Plossl eyepiece (77X) before going downstairs to take in Emily’s later slide presentation. Bob took over the unpowered 20.3cm Schmidt-Cassegrain and showed visitors Saturn using the 12.5mm Ortho (160X) and 20mm Plossl (100X) eyepieces. Throughout the evening, Bob talked to visitors and answered questions about astronomy. Steve Gauthier operated the RASC London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian, showing visitors Venus (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X), Saturn (12.5mm Ortho eyepiece, 89X) and the double-star Albireo (66X). A young lady visitor who has been bringing her telescope to the Cronyn Observatory set up her Go-To Celestron 90mm Maksutov telescope (17mm eyepiece, 73X) on the roof patio and showed visitors Venus and Saturn and the stars Arcturus and Mizar and Alcor.

Observing continued until nearly midnight when the Observatory was finally shut down after a very interesting evening with Emily’s slide presentation on Pluto and the New Horizons spacecraft mission, many questions asked about astronomy and much observing despite the hazy skies.