Each Saturday evening over the summer (from the beginning of May until the end of August), and in collaboration with the London chapter of the RASC, the Department of Physics & Astronomy organizes weekly open houses a the Hume Cronyn Memorial Observatory.
During these public nights, a professional astronomer delivers a presentation about an astronomical topic, and visitors get the opportunity (weather permitting) to look at interesting celestial objects through the Observatory's main 25.4 cm refractor, as well as through several other telescopes and binoculars set up by the RASC on the patio and the walkway.
If you've never participated in these events, a brief description of how you can contribute is given below. You can also have a look at the Schedule; then, sign up by contacting the Observatory Director (Prof. Jan cami, P&AB Rm 203; ext 80978; jcami at uwo.ca).
You should arrive at the Cronyn Observatory at 8:00pm. You should let in the people from the RASC, but it is generally a good idea to not let the public in until everything is set up and ready to go. Check the classroom, and organize the chairs if necessary. Bring the projector (and laptop if need be) from the basement and connect. All astronomers are encouraged to wear a recognizable (name) tag. Upstairs, open the doors to the patio, and set up the main refractor (remove lens caps and put in eyepieces etc.). RASC folks will take out our portable 8inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and their own Dobsonian from the small corner storage rooms. Keep these doors closed and locked (!) once everything is set up to keep curious kids from ransacking our cupboards. Do not attempt to use equipment that you have not been trained on and/or are not perfectly familiar with. The last thing to do is to bring out the sandwichboard from the basement, and put it outside, near the sundial, with the arrow pointing to the observatory. Then, open the doors for the public.
Members of the Department can then typically participate in three different roles:
At the end of the event, you clean up and close up the observatory -- there is a checklist upstairs that you should follow. When everything is back where you found it, verify that nobody is left in the observatory (check the washrooms!), switch off the lights and close all windows and doors before leaving.
Each public night, one person will have the overall responsibility. This person needs to ensure that one of the astronomers on duty will have a key to the observatory and open up at the right time; is in charge of setting up the conference room if need be (and put the sandwich board outside); and will take care in closing up (by following the proper checklist). Note that the observatory is now card-access only, so ensure you are on the access list if you need access to the building. In case of doubt, contact the Observatory Director.