Cloudy skies greeted 11 visitors (5 adults and 6 children) from the group Good Neighbours, for Exploring the Stars at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Saturday, April 28th, 2018, 7:00 p.m. Graduate student Jeff Vankerkhove presented the digital slide presentation “Constellations” and fielded questions. Jeff followed this with the activity “Telescope Kits,” with the visitors assembling and testing the telescopes from small reusable kits. This was followed by a tour of the dome and demonstrations of the “Spectroscopy Demo” and “Transit Demo” in the downstairs “Black Room” and a tour of the “1940s Period Room.”
RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Henry Leparskas and Bob Duff. Everett and Bob directed the big 25.4cm refractor (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 137X) towards the communications tower in south London. The London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X) was set up on the observation deck and directed towards the wind turbine on the Engineering building.
Downstairs in the “Black Room” Jeff 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, followed by the “Transit Demonstration” activity, with the “Transit Demo” model—showing how the transit detection method worked for finding extra-solar planets. Henry gave them a tour of 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.
When the visitors arrived upstairs in the dome, Bob gave a talk on the history of the observatory and technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor, calling their attention to and explaining the Schmidt camera and Cassegrain reflector telescope piggy-backed on the main telescope. He also showed them the 2 clocks on the east wall of the dome and explained the difference between Standard and Sidereal Time. Jeff and Bob supervised as the visitors climbed the observing ladder to view the communications tower through the 25.4cm refractor (32mm Erfle eyepiece, 137X). Henry and Bob supervised as the visitors viewed the wind turbine through the 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X) set up on the observation deck.
The visitors enjoyed their visit to the observatory and were gone by around 9:00 p.m. after a very interesting evening of astronomy despite the cloudy sky.