56 high school students from the SHAD program for gifted students are spending one month based on the Western University campus.
Their agenda has a fascinating twist in that the students are not told of their daily schedule until the morning of each day.
On July 15th the group visited the Hume Cronyn Memorial Observatory in the daytime and in the evening.
In the afternoon the students toured the observatory in small groups. In the lecture room, observatory Director Jan Cami spoke to each group about astronomical research that is being undertaken at Western.
Upstairs on the observing deck, RASC volunteers Everett Clark, Paul Kerans, and Bob Duff helped the students view the Sun through the Coronado H-Alpha 90mm solar telescope and through eclipse glasses. The Sun was visible at times through clouds and an occasional bit of drizzle. On the dome floor, Earth Sciences Professor Phil McCausland brought some of Western's meteorite collection to show the students. Inside, on the dome floor, the volunteers had on display three smaller telescopes on display, including the 20.5cm Schmidt-Cassegrain, the 20cm Dobsonian, and Paul's 23.5cm Schmidt-Cassegrain.
In the basement, undergraduate volunteer Nathalie Thibert gave a demonstration of four spectroscopic discharge lamps. In addition, undergraduate volunteer Will Hyland gave a demonstration of astronomers hunt for extra-solar planets that transit their parent stars.
By the time of the evening visit, skies had cleared considerably and everyone was excited to do some star gazing.
Observatory Director Jan Cami spoke to the group about the observatory's history, including the Perkin-Elmer 25.4cm refracting telescope and its sister scope, the Schmidt camera. As skies darkened, Prof. Cami pointed the 25.4cm refractor at the planet Jupiter.
Out on the observing deck, Paul Kerans had his 23.5cm Schmidt-Cassegrain scope set up, and Will Hyland managed the 20.5cm Schmidt-Cassegrain. They pointed their scopes to the waxing gibbous moon, double star Alberio, as well as Mars and Saturn. Paul also observed galaxy M81.
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