What is IYA 2009?
The International Year of Astronomy 2009 is a global effort initiated by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and UNESCO to help the citizens of the world rediscover their place in the Universe through the day- and night-time sky, and thereby engage a personal sense of wonder and discovery. The year 2009 was picked as the 400th anniversary of Galileo using his first telescope.
The UIS Barber Observatory will be participating in this year-long astronomical celebration by hosting several event.
Upcoming Local Events
August 11: Summer Skies At Therkildsen (Emiquon) Field Station
There will be a star party to observe the Perseid’s meteor shower the evening of August 11, 2009. The star party will be held from 8:30 pm to 1 am on the shore of Thompson Lake , located directly off Illinois Rts. 97/78, approximately one-half mile north of the Dickson Mounds turnoff. A sign will be posted at the entrance. See the Therkildsen (Emiquon) web site for more information:
October 22-24: Galilean Nights
On the heels of the world-wide success of the 100-Hours of Astronomy in April, the astronomical community has decided to sponsor a similar event called “Galilean Nights” on the evenings of October 22 – 24. This coincides with a normal Friday night star party at 8pm on Friday, October 23rd at the UIS campus observatory. We will probably be planning a few other events in cooperation with the Sangamon Astronomical Society. Watch this space for more information.
October 25: UIS International Festival
In honor of IYA 2009 the UIS has chosen the theme of “Dancing Under the Stars” for its annual Inernational fesival. The festival will include a presentation featuring video from the 80 Telescopes Around the World event that was part of the 100 Hours of Astronomy.
Other Projects of Note
We get a lot of phone calls from people curious about buying a telescope for themselves or a loved one. One of the cornerstone projects for IYA 2009 is the “Galileoscope.” The Gallieoscope is a small refracting telescope that comes as a kit you can purchase for $15. It is a great gift for a child that might be interested in astronomy. Follow the link below for more information.
Past Local Events
100 Hours of Astronomy (April 3th – 5th)
The first week in April the world is having a Star Party and the UIS Barber Observatory and the Sangamon Astronomical Society are teaming up to bring this celebration to the people of Central Illinois. Below is what we have planned for that weekend. Visit the international 100 Hours of Astronomy website (http://www.100hoursofastronomy.org/) for more information about other events.
Friday, April 3rd (evening star party)
UIS Friday Night Star Party (8 pm – 10 pm, UIS Campus Observatory)
The UIS Barber Observatory will be having a Friday Night Star Party. This event is free and open to all ages. No reservations are required. We’ll be opening up the observatory for an evening of looking through our telescopes on the roof of Brookens Library. If the weather does not cooperate we’ll have a special presentation about IYA 2009 including looking in on some of the live planned webcasts from other observatories around the world (Around the World in 80 Telescopes). Our cloudy weather site is Conference Room F on the lower level of the Public Affairs Center. Visit our Star Parties web page for more general information.
Saturday, April 4th (evening star party)
SAS Star Party At Centennial Park (4 pm – 9 pm, Springfield’s Centennial Park)
The Sangamon Astronomical Society (SAS) will be having a star party at Centennial Park (http://www.springfieldparks.org/parks/centennial.asp) on the westside of Springfield. This event is free and open to all ages. No reservations are required. In case of cloudy weather this event will be cancelled.
Sunday, April 5th (two events)
Sun-Day at UIS (1pm – 3pm, UIS Campus Observatory)
The world’s solar astronomers have declared the last day of the 100 hours to be “Sun-Day.” To celebrate Sun-Day Prof. Schweighauser and Prof. Martin of the UIS Astronomy-Physics program will be giving a lecture about our nearest an most important star, the Sun. The lecture will feature pictures and video footage of the Sun shot through UIS’s own 14-inch telescope. Weather permitting we will open up the campus observatory for people to look at the Sun through the 14-inch telescope. Members of the Sangamon Astronomical Society will also be present with their own telescopes to share views of the Sun. (You should normally never look at the Sun through a telescope but we will have special equipment installed that makes it safe.)
The lecture will start in the UIS Public Affairs Center (PAC) Room F (bottom floor) at 1pm and then telescope observing will be at the Campus Observatory, weather permitting. This event is free and open to all ages. No reservations are required.
UIS Star Party for People With Disabilities (7pm, UIS Campus Observatory)
The UIS Barber Observatory owns a unique telescope that can be used by a person using a wheel chair. As part of the 100 Hours of Astronomy weekend we are going to have a Star Party with this telescope for people with disabilities and their friends and families. Reservations must be made in advance to attend this event. Contact Prof Schweighauser (217-206-6721) to make reservations or get more information.
Public Shapley Astronomy Lecture
Friday, April 10th
On Friday, April 10 at 7 pm in conference room F on the lower level of the Public Affairs Center, the UIS Barber Observatory will host a public lecture by Dr Mercedes Richards entitled: “Pluto and the New Dwarf Planets.” Dr Richards participated in the 2006 International Astronomical Union meeting in Prauge that reformulated the definition of planets and reclassified Pluto as a Dwarf Planet. In this lecture, we will examine the structure of our Solar System to understand the different classes of objects that orbit the Sun. Dr Richards will share her first-hand look at the Pluto decision as an astronomer who participated in the voting process.