Monday, April 13, 2015

UIS Star Parties give glimpse of the galaxy

Star gazers don't need to head out to the country away from the lights the next few weekends.

The University of Illinois Springfield opened up its observatory on top of the Brookens Library roof Friday night for its popular Star Parties series.

The Star Parties, which are free and open to the public, will continue from 8 to 10 p.m. the next two Fridays, weather permitting.

About 25 people attended the first event Friday. Among those in attendance were Noel and Mike Fitzgibbon, along with their 8-year-old daughter, Sydney, and one of her friends.

The Rochester couple said they had never been to the observatory at UIS and thought it would be a good opportunity for their daughter to see firsthand the stars and planets she's learning about in the classroom.

"We thought it would be interesting and good for her education to get that hands-on experience," Noel Fitzgibbon said.

UIS astronomy professor John Martin said the Star Parties have been a tradition in Springfield since 1976.

They were started by UIS professer Charles Schweighauser and have continued nearly every year except for a brief hiatus in the mid-2000s, he said.

Star Parties were featured by The State Journal-Register on April 11, 2015.

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