Partly cloudy skies greeted some 48, possibly 62 visitors, to Western University’s Cronyn Observatory, Friday, June 2nd, 2017, 8:00—10:00 p.m. The occasion was the 2017 Synchro Canada Espoir Synchronized Swimming Championships, being held May 30th—June 4th, 2017, with 250 young athletes (ages 11—15) participating at the Western Sports & Recreation Center.
They were greeted by graduate student Jeff Vankerkhove, with RASC London Centre being represented by Henry Leparskas, Bob Duff, Peter Jedicke, Everett Clark and Dale Armstrong. Jeff and Henry used celestial coordinates from the Starry Night Pro software on the computer to direct the big 25.4cm refractor (28mm Meade Super Wide Angle eyepiece, 157X) towards Jupiter in the bright daylight sky, just before 8:00 p.m.
Henry and Bob gave brief telescope talks to the first to 2 groups of 18 and 12 young athletes respectively. Other athletes arrived, including 2 swimming event organizers (a man and woman) and 4 walk-ins—students on campus who wanted to see the observatory. There was some uncertainty as to the total number of visitors. Bob estimated the total to be 48 visitors, including 3 groups totaling 42 athletes plus 2 swimming event organizers and 4 walk-ins. Everett thought there was an additional group of 12 athletes and 2 more walk-ins for a total of 62 visitors.
The view of Jupiter through the 25.4cm refractor improved as the sky darkened and the 25.4cm refractor was later redirected towards the one-day-past-first quarter gibbous Moon, with some of the visitors taking pictures with their smartphones through the 28mm SWA eyepiece (157X). Henry had set up the RASC London Centre’s home-built 30.5cm Dobsonian on the roof patio outside the dome and Peter and Bob spent much of the evening showing the young visitors the Moon, with many trying to take pictures through the 17mm Nagler eyepiece (88X) with their smartphones. Peter opened the Virtual Moon Atlas on the computer to help identify lunar features. Dale Armstrong arrive a little after 9:00 p.m. and set up the observatory’s 20.3cm Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain, installing the 18mm Radian eyepiece (111X) to show visitors an excellent view of Jupiter.
Downstairs in the “Black Room” Jeff Vankerkhove gave demonstrations to groups of visitors of the “Transit Demo” model—showing how the transit detection method worked for finding extra-solar planets. Henry Leparskas gave visitors tours of the downstairs “1940s Period Room,” a historic recreation (designed by RASC London member Mark Tovey) 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. Henry also showed them the work being done by Mark on the “1967 Period Room,” recreating the early control room of the Elginfield Observatory to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation—Canada 150.
Everett handed out 10 “Star Finder” planispheres to interested visitors. Most of the visitors were gone by around 10:00 p.m. after thanking everybody for a very enjoyable evening of astronomy. The observatory was closed down around 10:30 p.m.