FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Date: February 24, 2003

Contact: Charles Schweighauser, 206-6721


UIS schedules Sunday Star Parties for people with disabilities


SPRINGFIELD This spring, the University of Illinois at Springfield will once again hold special Sunday Night Star Parties for people with disabilities. Three sessions are planned March 30, April 6, and April 13 weather permitting. All sessions will be held in the UIS observatory. The parties are free, but reservations are required.

Featured objects for viewing will be Jupiter, the largest planet, and Saturn, the ringed planet. The April 13 party will also focus on the moon.

These Star Parties are conducted by Charles Schweighauser, UIS professor of astronomy and physics. However the Sunday parties use a telescope specially designed to give people with disabilities access to the sky.

The modified eight-inch Schmidt Cassegrain telescope employs a traditional optical design but with a fixed eyepiece that brings the image to the viewer. This eyepiece can be moved backward and forward in its tube as much as seven inches without refocusing, and can accommodate anyone from a large person in a high wheelchair to a child in the lowest, smallest wheelchair. A laptop computer runs the telescope, eliminating the need for a large keyboard and monitor that can emit too much distracting light on the dark observation deck.

To make a reservation for a Sunday Night Star Party, or for more information, contact Schweighauser at 206-6721, no later than Friday, March 7.