See our Spring/Summer Star Parties page for information about those in 2022. The first one will be on March 11.
Star Parties in the Spring/Summer will be virtual. We are waiting to be closer to the fall before we decide on a mode for fall Friday Night Star Parties. Follow us on Twitter for updates.
Want to know how a virtual Star Party works? Check out the recordings of this fall’s Star Parties (below).
Fall 2022 Schedule
The mode for star parties (in-person or virtual) will be determined closer to the fall. Regardless of mode, we plan to do them at 8 p.m. on Friday nights starting after Labor Day and running through the end of October. The dates for Fall 2022 are:
- September 9, 16, 23, 30
- October 7, 14, 21, 28
Fundraising for a New Deck
Someday we will resume in-person Star Parties. We built a new deck we hope to show off when we can all get together in-person. We are continuing to fundraise for disability upgrades and replacing the telescope enclosure.
What is a Star Party?
Since 1980, thousands of people of all ages have come to the UIS observatory for Friday Night Star Parties, as well as for special astronomical events such as lunar and solar eclipses and comets.
At a typical Star Party, visitors learn about galaxies, the sun, stars,
and stellar evolution, as well as star and constellation identification
prior to using the telescopes. These discussions take place in the stairway
gallery of astronomical pictures on the way to the rooftop observation
deck atop Brookens Library. Then, the observatory director and qualified
volunteers help visitors use each of the telescopes.
Over the years, stargazers have seen many celestial objects, including the moon and planets, deep-sky objects such as the Orion Nebula and other fascinating star systems, the beautiful yellow-blue double star Albireo, and the open star cluster called the Pleiades.
The Astronomy Program also offers Accessible Sunday Night Star Parties for people who are challenged by stairs and ladders and their friends and families.
How do I get more information?
For general questions about Friday Night Star Parties call 217-206-8342.
Or check out Twitter feed @UISObservatory.
What do you do if it is cloudy?
This is NOT a thing for virtual Star Parties in Fall 2021. For virtual Star Parties we will do them regardless of clouds in the sky.
When we are back to in person Star Parties, in order to learn if the weather is suitable for viewing, please call 217-206-8342 after 7:00 PM on the night of the Star Party.
Or you can get information on when the observatory is open from our twitter feed.
Is there elevator access to the Campus Observatory for a Friday Night Star Parties?
For in person Star Parties at the campus observatory: No. Not during a Friday Night Star Party. Visitors to a Friday Night Star Party must be able to climb up and down four flights of stairs AND climb a short 5 ft ladder up to the main telescope dome. If you or a loved one that wants to attend a Star Party has trouble with stairs or ladders you should call 217-206-8342 and ask about our Sunday Night Star Parties for people with disabilities. Those Star Parties are fully accessible and require no stair or ladder climbing.
Are regular Friday Star Parties accessible?
If you are interested and you want to attend an accessible Star Party sometime in the future you are encouraged to express your interest. Please contact John Martin (217-206-83442) about Sunday Night accessible Star Parties.
Where is the UIS Campus Observatory?
The Campus observatory will be closed until the University lifts restrictions in place for COVID.
The Campus observatory is on the roof of Brookens Library. The door for the observatory is on the southeast corner of the library (side opposite the UIS fountain) and the door is marked “Observatory.” You have got to go all the way round the corner to see the observatory door. The observatory is through that door and up five flights of stairs to the roof. We appologize for the deplorable lack of signage. We are working on it. On that map below the library is building #7 and the door for the observatory is on the lower right corner of the outline of the building.