Tuesday, August 19, 2008

UIS schedules Sunday Star Parties for people with disabilities

This fall, the University of Illinois at Springfield will once again hold special Sunday Night Star Parties for people with disabilities. Three Sunday evening sessions are planned – September 7, October 5, and November 9 – weather permitting. All sessions will be held in the UIS observatory. The parties are free, but reservations are required.

Featured objects for viewing will be Jupiter, the largest planet, and the moon.

Conducted by Charles Schweighauser and John Martin, UIS professors of astronomy and physics, the Sunday Parties use a telescope specially designed to give people with disabilities access to the sky. This is the first telescope in the world designed for, and dedicated to, people with disabilities.

The modified eight-inch Schmidt Cassegrain telescope employs a traditional optical design but with a fixed eyepiece that brings the image to the viewer. This eyepiece can be moved backward and forward in its tube as much as seven inches without refocusing, and can accommodate anyone from a large person in a high wheelchair to a child in the lowest, smallest wheelchair. A laptop computer runs the telescope, eliminating the need for a large keyboard and monitor that can emit too much distracting light on the dark observation deck.

To make a reservation for a Sunday Night Star Party, or for more information, contact Schweighauser at 206-6721 no later than Friday, August 29, for the September 7 Star Party.