Cloudy skies greeted 28 visitors (22 children and 6 adults / leaders) from the 36th London Guides for Exploring the Stars at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Wednesday, January 27th, 2016, 7:00 p.m. Graduate student Laura Lenkic presented the digital slide presentation “The Girl Guide Astronomy Badge” and fielded questions. Laura followed this with the activity “Telescope Kits”, with the Guides assembling 14 simple telescopes from small reusable kits. Laura used one telescope for demonstration and the girls tested their newly assembled telescopes by viewing a slide of a snowman projected on the screen.
RASC London Centre member Bob Duff opened the dome and directed the big 25.4cm refractor (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 137X) towards the flashing white and red lights on the communications tower in south London. Bob also set up the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X) on the roof patio outside the dome, directing it towards the wind turbine on the Engineering building. When everybody arrived upstairs Bob gave a talk on the history of the Cronyn Observatory and some of the technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor. Bob also explained how a reflector telescope worked, using his green laser pointer to show them the Schmidt camera and Cassegrain reflector, piggy-backed on the 25.4cm refractor. He explained the difference between a refractor and reflector telescope and mentioned the 25.4cm Dobsonian set up on the roof patio.
At Bob’s suggestion the Guide leaders divided the girls into 2 groups with one going outside to view the wind turbine through the 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X), supervised by Laura. Bob supervised from near the top of the observing ladder as Guides in the second group climbed the steps to view the flashing white and red lights on the communications tower in south London through the 25.4cm refractor (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 137X). Both groups had the opportunity to view through both telescopes before the evening ended at 9:00 p.m. The Guides were very appreciative of this very enjoyable and informative evening learning about telescopes and astronomy.