Star Parties


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This is the page for our popular Friday Night Star Parties. Visit our Disability Support web page to learn about our Sunday Night Star Parties for people with disabilities.

Follow us on twitter (@UISObservatory) for updates and information.

Fundraising for a New Deck

We are currently raising money to replace the deck used for Star Parties.

For information about our efforts to renovate the UIS Campus Observatory used for Star Parties, please follow this link.

Friday Star Parties For 2019.

The season has ended for this year.  Star Parties are normally scheduled Friday nights in September and October.  We also do some spring and summer public events.  Check back with us about February, when we start to think about the spring and will post our dates for the coming year.

Star parties are 8-10pm (weather permitting) on the Fridays.  They are free and open for everyone.  Come as you are anytime between 8-10pm.  We do a short talk about some of the displays in the stairwell starting at 8pm.  See below for more information about “weather permitting.

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, vImage taken from hubblesite.orgisitors 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 Sunday Night Star Parties for the disabled and their friends and families.

How do I get more information?

For general questions about Friday Night Star Parties call 217-206-8342.

What do you do if it is cloudy?

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.

What is the location  of Star Parties?

In Fall 2019 the Star Parties will be held on the patio of the old PAC Food Emporium (now the UIS Bookstore).    The PAC is the Public Affairs Center which is best known as the location of Sangamon Auditorium.  We suggest that people park in parking lots C, D, or E (like going to a show or concert at Sangamon Auditorium).  The patio is accessed from the lowest level of the PAC.

If you enter on the main floor (with the entrance to the Auditorium and the ticket window) you can get down to the lowest level using the stairs or elevator on the southeast corner of the building.  That will put you near the UIS Blackbox Theater.  Proceed down a short hallway toward the UIS Bookstore (formerly the Food Emporium).

If you enter through the “tear drop” (where valet service is for shows at the Auditorium) you are already on the lowest level of the PAC. From there walk down the wide hallway leading away from the entrance.  The old Food Emporium (now the UIS Bookstore) is on your right at the end of that hall.

The patio (where Star Parties are to be held) is accessed through the glass doors on the east side of the open area that was the Food Emporium.

Are regular Friday Star Parties accessible in 2019?

Yes.  They are for the most part.  There are no stairs or ladders to get to the patio where Star Parties are being held in their temporary Fall 2019 location.  Keep in mind though that using a telescope can sometimes require stepping up on a short stool or bending down low to the ground.  Contact John Martin about Sunday Night accessible Star Parties if any of that presents an accessibility issue for you or a friend.

Information below this line pertains to the campus observatory and NOT Star Parties in Fall 2019

Is there elevator access to the Campus Observatory for a Friday Night Star Parties?

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.

Where is the UIS Campus Observatory?

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. Map to Campus Observatory