Monday, March 23, 2009

UIS helps celebrate 100 Hours of Astronomy

The University of Illinois at Springfield will be hosting a series of events called 100 Hours of Astronomy, in partnership with the Sangamon Astronomical Society, from Friday, April 3 through Sunday, April 5.

The events are part of an international 100 Hours of Astronomy celebration in conjunction with the International Year of Astronomy 2009, a global effort to help the citizens of the world rediscover their place in the Universe through the day- and night-time sky.

The series of events will begin with a Friday Night Star Party in the UIS Barber Observatory on Friday, April 3 from 8 to 10 p.m. The observatory will be open for participants to view the night sky through the observatory telescopes.

The observatory is located on the roof of Brookens Library on the UIS campus, accessible by a door on the southeast corner of the library. In the event of uncooperative weather, there will be a special presentation about International Year of Astronomy 2009. The event is free and open to the public; reservations are not required.

On Saturday, April 4, the Sangamon Astronomical Society will be holding a star party at Centennial Park from 4 to 9 p.m. The event is free and open to the public; reservations are not required. In the event of cloudy weather, the Saturday star party will be cancelled.

On Sunday, April 5, UIS will host “Sun-Day” from 1 to 3 p.m. at the UIS Barber Observatory. Charles Schweighauser and John Martin, UIS professors of astronomy/physics, will give a lecture about the Sun, featuring photos and video footage of the sun taken through UIS’ 14-inch telescope. The lecture will start at 1 p.m. and will take in the Public Affairs Center, room F.

Weather permitting, the campus observatory will be open following the lecture for the public to look at the Sun through the telescope, and the Sangamon Astronomical Society will also have telescopes set up for viewing. The Sun should not normally be viewed through a telescope; however, special equipment will be installed on the telescopes for this event to ensure safe viewing of the Sun.

“Sun-Day” is free and open to the public; reservations are not required.

To complete the 100 Hours of Astronomy celebration, UIS will host a Sunday Night Star Party for people with disabilities, beginning at 7 p.m. at the UIS observatory. A modified eight-inch Schmidt Cassegrain telescope will be used for this Star Party, which has a fixed eyepiece to bring the image to the viewer and can accommodate anyone from a large person in a high wheelchair to a child in the lowest, smallest wheelchair.

Reservations are required for the Sunday Night Star Party. To make reservations, contact Schweighauser at 217/206-6721.

For more information on the 100 Hours of Astronomy, go online to or contact Martin at 217/206-8342. More information on UIS Star Parties can be found at, and more information about the Sangamon Astronomical Society can be found at