Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Star Parties return Friday at UIS

Organizers of the first Star Party at then-Sangamon State University in 1976 learned one thing very quickly: It can be cold in December, especially on the roof of Brookens Library.

But that didn't deter interest, and the popular Friday Star Parties return this week and run through the end of October.

John Martin, associate professor of astronomy and physics at what is now the University of Illinois Springfield, said subsequent Star Parties were moved to fall. "The sun is setting at a reasonable time so that it becomes dark earlier, and the weather hasn't turned nasty," said Martin, the Star Parties host.

There will be seven regular 8-10 p.m. Friday Star Parties this year, plus a bonus party from 7 to 10 p.m. Sept. 27 (weather permitting) to view the start of a total lunar eclipse. "We haven't had a good lunar eclipse that is visible here in a while," Martin said.

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 can view the skies through telescopes and ask questions.

Participants are welcome to arrive and leave as they wish between 8 and 10 p.m.

Reservations aren't required for the free Star Parties, and groups are encouraged to attend. The entrance to the campus observatory is outside Brookens Library on the southeast corner of the building.

The parties can be canceled for cloudy weather. Questions about whether the weather is suitable for viewing should be directed to 206-8342 at 7 p.m. on the evening of the Star Party.

This article appeared online in The State Journal-Register on September 7, 2015.

Read the entire article here.