SPRINGFIELD -- The University of Illinois at Springfield's popular Star Parties will begin for the fall on Friday, September 7, and continue every Friday night through October 26, weather permitting. Star Parties are from 8 to 10 p.m. in the UIS observatory.
John Martin, assistant professor of Astronomy/Physics at UIS, will host the Star Parties, which this fall will focus the observatory's three telescopes on a number of celestial objects, including the Ring Nebula in Lyrae, a star like our sun which has reached the end of its life; the globular cluster M13 in Hercules, which is a ball of one million stars roughly 13 billion years old; other star clusters and double stars; and the moon, when available.
Martin noted that the giant planet Jupiter and its moons would also be of special interest as the 400th anniversary of Galileo's discoveries with his first telescope approaches (in 2009). "Galileo was the first person to use a telescope to look at Jupiter and he discovered those moons which we'll be seeing. At Star Parties we'll be able to see the four brightest ones," he said.
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.
Questions about whether the weather is suitable for viewing should be directed to 217/206-7328 at 7 p.m. on the evening of the Star Party.