Star Parties


Summer Star Parties

Follow this link to information at Star Parties in summer 2020:

Summer Star Parties


Follow us on the UIS Observatory Twitter Feed

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 2020.

In Fall 2020 Star Parties will be on Friday nights in September and October.

We are hopeful that these will be on our new deck.  But that has yet TBD.  If the deck is not completed well will hold the events at another location like happened in Fall 2019.

The scheduled dates are:

September:  4, 11, 18, & 25

October: 2, 9, 16, 23, & 30

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


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.

Are regular Friday Star Parties accessible in 2020?

We have none planned but if you want to attend an accessible Star Party 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 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