Exploring the Stars, UWO Scientific Research Society, January 11th, 2016

Cloudy skies, later becoming partly cloudy, greeted 25 visitors from the UWO Scientific Research Society for Exploring the Stars at Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Monday, January 11th, 2016, 6:00 p.m. Graduate student Kendra Kellogg presented the digital slide presentation “Extra Solar Planets” and fielded questions. Kendra followed this with the activity “Constellations”, distributing 25 “Star Finder” planispheres and showing them how to assemble them with transparent adhesive tape. She then showed them the slide “Reading a Star Finder”, followed by constellations slides from the planetarium software “Stellarium” to help them learn how to use the planispheres. RASC London Centre member Paul Kerans then made a presentation on meteorites, and circulated an iron / nickel and stony iron meteorite around the group for their inspection.

RASC London Centre was represented by Everett Clark, Paul Kerans and Bob Duff. When everybody arrived upstairs in the dome, Bob gave a talk on the history of the Cronyn Observatory and technical aspects of big 25.4cm refractor and the attached Schmidt camera and Cassegrain reflector telescope. He explained the Standard and Sidereal Time clocks on the east wall. Bob also showed them the 25.4cm Dobsonian set up inside the dome and explained that it was a reflector telescope. 

Paul then gave a talk on binocular astronomy. Paul had set up his Celestron SkyMaster 15 X 70mm binoculars on his Orion Parallelogram Mount and tripod inside the dome and invited a visitor to sit in a reclining folding chair to view overhead through the binoculars. Paul also showed them his Nikon 7 X 50mm and 10 X 50mm binoculars and explained that they could be handheld but that larger binoculars such as his 15 X 70mm were better off mounted with a bracket on a camera tripod.

Everett announced that the sky had partially cleared outside and, with the dome opened, directed the big 25.4cm refractor towards the southwest. Bob installed the 32mm Erfle eyepiece (137X) and centered the Orion Nebula (M42) in the field of view. Bob supervised as the visitors viewed through the big 25.4cm refractor and when clouds obscured M42, redirected the telescope towards the star Aldebaran. 

On the roof patio outside the dome Paul set up his Celestron SkyMaster 15 X 70mm binoculars on his Orion Parallelogram Mount and tripod and showed visitors M42. He also showed them the Pleiades (M45) with the handheld 10 X 50mm Nikon binoculars. The visitors asked many questions and were gone by around 8:00 p.m. after expressing their thanks for a very enjoyable evening of astronomy.