Cloudy skies greeted 12 visitors (8 children and 4 adults / leaders) from the 1st Mount Brydges Girl Guides for Exploring the Stars at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018, 6:30 p.m. Graduate student Viraja Khatu presented the digital slide presentation “The Scout / Guide Astronomy Badge,” with the title slide “The Basics,” and fielded questions. Viraja followed this with the activity “Kitchen Comet” making a comet from dry ice and other materials.
Bringing the Guides downstairs into the “Black Room,” RASC London member Henry Leparskas did the “Spectroscopy Demonstration,” with the visitors putting on diffraction grating glasses to view the spectra of 4 gas discharge lamps, including hydrogen, helium, neon and mercury. Henry then gave them a tour of the newly created “W. G. Colgrove Exhibit” and the historic“1940s Period Room,” a recreation 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. The visitors signed the guest book. Both the “W. G. Colgrove Exhibit” and the “1940s Period Room” were designed by RASC London Centre member Mark Tovey.
RASC London Centre was represented by Henry Leparskas, Everett Clark and Bob Duff. Bob arrived later in the evening (following dinner celebrating his May 23rd birthday) and was let in by Henry through the back door to the “1940s Period Room” while showing the Guides the “W. G. Colgrove Exhibit.” Henry introduced Bob as “The Ghost of Christmas Past” to the audible giggle of the Guides.
When everybody arrived upstairs in the dome, Bob gave a brief talk on some of the history of the observatory and technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor, also explaining the 2 clocks on the east wall and the difference between Standard and Sidereal Time. Viraja supervised as the Guides climbed the observing ladder to view the communications tower in south London through the 25.4cm refractor (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 137X). The Guides also viewed the wind turbine on the Engineering building through the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X), set up by Everett and Bob just inside the door to the observation deck.
The Guides had the opportunity to “walk on the Moon and Mars” by stepping on the round wooden oak display cases, containing the Moon and Mars meteorites, made by Henry Leparskas. Before they left around 8:30 p.m., they celebrated Bob’s birthday, presenting him a box of Girl Guide cookies, with another going to Viraja. There was also a birthday card signed by Viraja and the RASC London volunteers.