Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sunday Night Star Parties held for people with disabilities

The University of Illinois at Springfield is holding several Star Parties for people with disabilities throughout the spring in the UIS observatory, located at the top of Brookens Library on the UIS campus. Star Parties are free, but reservations are required.

Weather permitting, the dates of the Star Parties include Sunday, March 8, Sunday, April 5, and Sunday, May 3. The events begin at 8 p.m. and will include a short presentation before the viewing. The featured objects for viewing will be the first-quarter moon and the ringed planet Saturn.

Sunday Star Parties are conducted by Charles Schweighauser and John Martin, UIS professors of astronomy and physics. The sessions use a telescope designed to give people with disabilities access to the sky.

The modified eight-inch Schmidt Cassegrain telescope at UIS uses a fixed eyepiece that brings the image to the viewer. This eyepiece can be moved backward and forward in its tube to be able to accommodate anyone from a large person in a high wheelchair to a child in the lowest, smallest wheelchair. The telescope is the first one of its kind in the world.

For more information or to make a reservation for a Sunday Star Party, contact Schweighauser at 206-6721 or cschw1@uis.edu.