FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                        Date: March 15, 2002

         Contact: Donna McCracken, 206-6716

UIS Star Parties to begin for spring

SPRINGFIELD – The University of Illinois at Springfield’s popular Friday night Star Parties will begin for spring on March 29 and continue every Friday night through April 26, weather permitting.  Star Parties are from 8 to 10 p.m. in the UIS observatory.

Conducted by UIS professor of Astronomy and Physics Charles Schweighauser, the Star Parties will use three telescopes to view a number of celestial objects including Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system; Saturn, the ringed planet; the Orion Nebula, birthplace of new stars; and the moon, when visible.

Schweighauser noted that stargazing this spring promises to be something special.  “This spring will provide one of the most spectacular sessions in the 25-year history of star parties at UIS, with the two largest planets in the solar system and the Orion Nebula -- the most beautiful deep-sky object available to viewers through a telescope -- as well as the always magnificent moon,” he said.

Star Parties are free and open to viewers of all ages.  Reservations are not required and there is no limit on the number of people that can be accommodated.  The entrance to the campus observatory is located outside the southeast corner of Brookens Library.  To learn if the weather is suitable for viewing, call the UIS Information Desk at 206-6600, after 7 p.m. on the evening of the Star Party.