Western University Physics adn AstronomyWestern Science

Select a Presentation for your Group - Exploring the Stars

The Solar System

There are a number of prepared presentations available to choose from and we are continually adding new presentations and updating old ones. Presentations currently available are (click on a title to see the description):

Presentation Choices

Black Holes

What are black holes? How do we observe and study them, and how are they formed? We'll discuss some stellar evolution and find out how that relates to black holes, and then go over some interesting facts about these mysterious objects.

Our Star - The Sun

The Sun sustains all terrestrial life, and it's apparent motion defines our very notion of time. But what is the Sun? Find out how our star evolves and how it moves. Learn about sudden and subtle changes in solar properties and how these have affected past living conditions on Earth and how they could do so again in the future.

Extra Solar Planets

More than 1000 planets have been discovered outside our Solar System up till now. In this presentation, we will talk about how these exoplanets/extra-solar planets are discovered and what kinds of planets have been found so far. We will also talk about how the future looks in terms of looking for more Earth-like planets and life on exoplanets.

Big Bang

How did the universe start? Where did it come from? Scientists agree that the Big Bang Theory is the best explanation we have so far! We will first put the size of the universe into perspective, and then discuss where the Big Bang Theory came from and what evidence we have for it. What about the end of the universe? We talk about these possibilities too!

The Small Bodies in our Solar System

When we think of our solar system we think of the Sun, 8 planets and maybe some moons. In reality though there is much more out there! Come learn about comets, asteroids, meteoroids, Kuiper Belt objects and all the other things that are out there. You will start to see that our solar system isn't empty at all and is in fact full of many different objects! We will also look at how these objects can affect the planets and moons around them and how some of these objects could cause great destruction on Earth.

Constellations

There are 88 constellations in the night sky...how many can you name? In this presentation, we discuss some of the more well known constellations (Big and Little Dipper, Orion, etc.), what they are, and how they get their names. We also use the Starry Night software to show you just where they are, before heading up to the balcony of the Cronyn Observatory to see them with our own eyes!

The Scout/Guide Astronomy Badge

Learn about constellations, the Moon, navigation and lots of other things you need to know to be a Guide or Scout Astronomer! This presentation is a combination of other presentations listed on this page, with the aim of covering much of the information required in the Astronomy badges of these organizations.

The Earth Moon System

Sure, the Earth and Moon are close by, so may seem 'plain', but to astronomers they are two of the most interesting objects in our Solar System! The best thing is that we can easily get samples and test our theories since everything is right at our finger tips. Here we explain how we get day and night, the seasons, eclipses, tides and how we think the Moon formed!

Galaxies

Our Milky Way Galaxy is just one of billions of galaxies in the universe! Why are there so many types of galaxies, and how do they evolve and interact with each other? Here we will learn about the different types of galaxies (spirals, ellipticals and irregulars). We will also discuss theories of the Hubble Tuning Fork, and of formation and interactions of these huge groups of stars!

Life in the Universe

What is the possibility of life existing elsewhere in our universe? Have we been visited by other civilizations? Earth is so far the only body in the Solar System that is known to have life, but here we will talk about the possibility of life elsewhere in our Solar System (Mars, Europa, Titan). We also discuss extra-solar planets (those planets found outside our Solar System) and describe the Drake Equation, which is a way to estimate the number of intelligent civilizations in the Galaxy.

Mars

Ever since ancient times when this Red Planet was named for the God of War, Mars has held a special place in the hearts of humans. Now, with many current and future missions planned, we are learning more and more about this planet that is the most similar to our own Earth. Starting with the basics, this presentation describes what it is like on Mars, what missions have been sent there, and discusses the possibility of water and life, as well as what the future holds for human colonization!

The Stuff of Stars

What are stars made of, and how do astronomers find out? Try out spectroscopy for yourself during this presentation! You'll break up the light from different sources at the observatory and analyze it in the same way that astronomers study the light coming from different stars to find out what chemicals they are made of.

The History of Space Exploration

All throughout history, mankind has been obsessed with travelling into the unknown! Ever since the "Space Race" in the 1960's, the public has been continually in awe of sending man as well as machine into our Solar System and beyond. From the short flights in the 1940s to the space missions that take years to reach their destinations, this presentation takes you on a ride through space exploration history and then shows you how we're going further than ever before!

Our Solar System

In our solar system we have 8 planets going around our Sun, and 100s of moons going around the planets. And that's not even considering the dwarf planets and their moons. In this presentation we will start with the Sun and take a walk through our solar system looking at the planets and their moons. We will also discuss what a dwarf planet is and where Pluto fits into all of this. Come explore our solar system!

The Life and Times of Stars

When we look into the night sky, we can see hundreds of stars with our naked eye alone...and that's just the tip of the iceberg! There are billions of stars in our Milky Way Galaxy alone, and in this presentation we discuss the different types of stars, how they form, evolve and eventually die, creating some of the most beautiful objects seen in the universe!

Telescopes

The telescope at Cronyn Observatory is just one kind of astronomical telescope - there are lots of other designs. Take a look at Cronyn's refracting telescope and compare it to the giant radio dish telescopes that astronomers use to learn about the Cosmic Microwave Background, and to the even more exotic X-ray and Gamma-Ray telescopes. How do they work, anyways? You'll find out here!

Hands-on Activities

In addition, we have several pre-planned educational activities that can be incorporated into a private event. These include (click a title for the description):

Constellations

The 88 constellations help astronomers find their way around the night sky. Put together a planisphere, and use this star map to locate stars and constellations in the sky at Cronyn Observatory!

Galaxy Sorting

Galaxies come in all shapes and sizes. Learn about galaxies, and then using a set of photographs, sort them based on your own criteria, the same way Edwin Hubble did! We'll discuss how scientists classify newly discovered celestial objects.

Make your own Constellation/Constellation Detective

This activity is meant for younger kids who will make their own constellation and story from a given pattern of stars. Afterwards, they will learn about the constellations that actually exist in those patterns and learn how to find them.

Crater Experiment

We see craters on the Moon, Mars and even a few on Earth! Impact craters form when an asteroid or comet hits the surface of another object - planets, moons or even other asteroids. Do an experiment using household ingredients to investigate how different sizes and types of craters are formed.

Kitchen Comet

Comets are some of the oldest and coldest objects in our Solar System and formed outside the orbit of Pluto! They are made mostly of frozen water, frozen carbon dioxide, dust, rocks and organic material and are often referred to as dirty snowballs. In this activity, help build a model comet with dry ice, and investigate how comets change over time.

Telescope Kits

Each group will have a tour of the Hume Cronyn Observatory, including the telescope that was built in 1939. To learn even more about telescopes they can build one from a small, reusable kit, that are the same size that Galileo used to find the Moon's of Jupiter and view Saturn's rings! Participants will learn about optics and how each lens does it's job to create a sharp, magnified image. Find out what's really important when looking for your own telescope.

Transit Demonstration

The transit detection method has been used to find over a thousand exoplanets! Simulate detecting an exoplanet using this method, and investigate how different stellar types and planets affect it.

To book a private event: please send us the date and start time you would like to reserve, which presentation and/or activity you are interested in, the age/educational level of the group, and any special requests you have. Special requests may include a specific Exploring the Stars instructor (instructor profiles can be found here) or a presentation/activity not listed above. We cannot guarantee that special requests can be honoured, however we will work with you to create the best program possible. We can be reached for bookings via the contact page.