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International Observe the Moon Night 2016 at Western a success

International Observe the Moon Night 2016 at Western University's Cronyn Observatory

[Flickr images]

Although Saturday had dawned crystal clear, there was a blustery wind, and the forecast was dicey because of the battle between the local high pressure system and the remnants of Hurricane Matthew.

This was the day the Western would celebrate its 7th annual International Observe the Moon Night (INOMN). The event is organized by The Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX), The Department of Physics and Astronomy, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, London Centre, and the Planetary Society, London Chapter.

Forging ahead, the intrepid volunteers arrived at about 3pm to set up displays and telescopes. Parshati Patel, Dilini Subasinghe, Will Hyland, and Nastaran Ghafouriansahraei prepared the lecture room and visitors information table. In the basement, Christy Caudill and Sarah Simpson prepared the impact crater demo, while Elise Harrington would be demonstrating the Sotellunium (Sun-Earth-Moon model). Jennifer Newman set up a table containing the Western meteorite collection.  On the observing floor, Everett Clark, Paul Kerans, Dave Clark, Robin Arnason, and Henry Leparskas got telescopes ready, opened the dome and pointed to the moon as it came in and out of the clouds. Dave had his 20.3cm Meade scope, while Paul used his 23.5cm telescope, and lastly Peter Jedicke used the 25.4cm Dobsonian mounted Newtonian reflecting scope. He was later accompanied by Dave McCarter. The historic 25.4cm refracting scope of managed by Robin Arnason and Dilini Subasinghe.

By the 5:00pm opening time everything was in readiness, and as doors opened, a few visitors trickled in. At about the same time a dark set of ominous clouds also descended over north London and the campus.

The clouds were a bit of a disappointment to the telescope volunteers, because the first quarter moon was already well above the horizon and would have been visible otherwise. However, there was lots for visitors to do, as they were given tours of the old telescopes on the observing floor, and got to ask questions about the more modern telescopes that had been deployed on the observing deck outside. Visitors could also enjoy the demonstrations going on in the basement, and they could also get lots of cool stuff at the information table that was situated in the lecture room.

As more visitors began to arrive, at 6:00pm Prof. Catherine Neish spoke in the lecture room on 'My Favourite Moons', and at 6:30pm Prof. Phil Stooke spoke on the 'The Voyages of Apollo'.

By the 7:00 draw time, the building had filled with visitors. Draw time was exciting, as one lucky winner went home with a new telescope, while two other winners received autographed books by retired astronaut Harrison Schmidt, along with other small goodies from CPSX.

As if scripted, as the draw finished visitors looked up to witness that the skies had completely cleared. There was a rush of visitors upstairs, who were greeted with great telescope views of the Moon, Mars, Saturn, and the Andromeda galaxy M31.

By this time Tricia Colvin and Mark Tovey were now also giving tours of the historic 1940 period room, and Peter Jedicke has arrived to help visitors view the sky through the 20cm Dobsonian mounted reflecting telescope.

The observatory hummed with activity for the rest of the evening, and by 10:00pm a few reluctant stragglers departed and the doors were closed.

On the observing deck an announcement was made that we would be in store for the viewing of an Iridium Flare. Sure enough, at about 20:12, visitors spotted the Iridium satellite as it travelled south over London. It brightened significantly as its solar panels sent some extra sunlight down towards London, though the flare was a bit fainter than expected.

Approximately 300 visitors attended INOMN 2016 at Western.

Lead organizer was Outreach Program Co-ordinator for CPSX, Dr. Parshati Patel.

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