Monday, April 7, 2014

Cloudy conditions cancel first UIS star party; more events set for April

Stargazers will be able to get a look at some of Earth’s celestial neighbors during upcoming Friday Night Star Parties at the University of Illinois Springfield.

The weekly parties were to start Friday night, but the first one had to be canceled because of cloudy conditions. Additional events are scheduled for April 11, 18 and 25 between 8 and 10 p.m. at the campus observatory on the roof of Brookens Library. The door for the observatory is on the southeast side of the library.

A typical star party begins with a presentation about galaxies, the sun and stars as people ascend the stairs to the observatory. On the roof observation deck, visitors can view the skies through telescopes and ask questions.

John Martin, associate professor of astronomy/physics at UIS, said that as long as the weather cooperates, Jupiter will be visible during all of April, and Mars will be visible at the end of the month.

Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, should be an interesting sight.

“Sometimes you can see the different-colored bands around its equator and atmosphere,” Martin said. “You can also see that it isn’t round. It’s oblate because it’s spinning so fast. You can also see that it has four bright moons.”

The event was featured by The State Journal-Register on April 5, 2014.

Read the article online