Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Spring schedule set for UIS Friday Night Star Parties

The University of Illinois Springfield’s popular Friday Night Star Parties will resume the last week in March and continue through the end of April. Those dates include: March 23, 30 and April 6, 13, 20, and 27. Friday Night Star Parties are held from 8 to 10 p.m., weather permitting, at the UIS observatory, located on the roof of Brookens Library.

Star Parties are hosted by John Martin, assistant professor of Astronomy/Physics. The observatory’s telescopes will be used to view a number of celestial objects, including the planets Venus, Mars, and Saturn; the Moon, when visible; the Great Nebula in Orion; and other double stars and star clusters. This spring we are fortunate to have the two bright planets Jupiter and Venus in the west at sunset, followed by Mars and Saturn rising later in the evening in the east.

A typical Star Party begins with a presentation as visitors ascend the stairs to the observatory, learning about galaxies, the sun and stars along the way. On the roof observation deck visitors are invited to view various celestial objects through telescopes and ask questions. Participants are welcome to arrive and leave as they wish between 8 and 10 p.m.

Friday Night Star Parties are free and open to the public. Reservations are not required, and groups are encouraged to attend. The entrance to the campus observatory is located outside Brookens Library on the southeast corner of the building.

Star Parties may be canceled for cloudy weather. Questions about whether the weather is suitable for viewing should be directed to 217/206-8342 at 7 p.m. on the evening of the Star Party. For more information on Star Parties, email John Martin at jmart5@uis.edu or visit www.uis.edu/astronomy/about/starparties.html.

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