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Public Astronomy Observations

The SIU Carbondale Physics Department hosts free public observations the 3rd Sunday of each month during the fall and spring semesters.  Observations start one hour after sunset and going for one and a half hours. Observations are at the observation deck on top of the Neckers building as well as the observation area at the SIU Farms Dark Site. We typically observe bright sky objects such as the Moon, major planets, star clusters, nebula and some deep sky objects such as the Andromeda Galaxy. All observations are weather dependent and space limited. The Neckers observation deck is not handicap accessible, however we can arrange for telescopes to be setup at ground level for individuals not able to take stairs to the observation deck.   If you have a large group or other special needs, please contact the event coordinator to let them know in advance.  Children accompanied by adults are welcome. For up to the minute event info and online discussion, see the physics department Facebook event info page:

Facebook Physics Eventshttps://www.facebook.com/pg/SIUC.Physics/events

Observation Schedule 2019

   

Friday, July, 12, 2019, Southern Illinois Summer Star Party 2019 @ the SIU Farms, 7pm to midnight.

Celebrate the 150th anniversary of SIU Carbondale by attending the Southern Illinois Star Party.  Join SIU, the Astronomical Association of Southern Illinois, and the Adler Planetarium of Chicago for a free, family friendly star party at the SIU Farms Astronomy Observation site on Friday, July 12.  Astronomers will be onhand to explain the night sky and share views through several telescopes. Check out free guided views of the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Mars, Juipter, and Saturn, as well as several deep sky objects visible later in the evening.   Visit activity and vendor tents where you can participate in fun activities, learn about meteorites and the night sky, and check out state of the art observation equipment.  Presentations throughout the evening from 8:30pm to 10:30pm. 

Free event parking at SIUC Lot # 63 at the corner of Chautauqua and Oakland streets.   Shuttles will depart lot 63 every 15 minutes taking patrons to and from the observation area, approximately 2 miles from the parking lot.  

Although there will be plenty of telescope to check out, visitors are welcome to bring their own scopes and viewing equipment to the event as well as lawn chairs and blankets.  

Food, drinks, and snow cone vending onsite by SEMO Kona Ice and Heartland Catering

Onsite Parking is very limited and will be by special permit only.  Visitors bringing large telescopes to the event requiring vehicle access to the observation site should contact event coordinator, Bob Baer (rbaer@siu.edu) for parking information.

Schedule

7pm: Gates Open. Solar observations and activities. Shuttles running from public parking at SIU Lot 63.

8:20pm to midnight: Night time telescope observations and activities continue.

Jumbo Screen Outdoor Presentations

8:30pm: Remembering Apollo 11, 50 Years Later, Liliana Lefticaru, SIUC.

9:05pm: Look Up!, Michelle Nichols, Adler Planetarium of Chicago

9:30pm: Documentary: The Farthest, Voyager in Space.

 

About the presenters

 Dr. Lefticaru

Liliana Lefticaru is an Associate Professor of Geology at SIUC.  Her research at SIUC focuses on the areas of fractionation of isotopes in sedimentary sequences.   A new and very exciting line of her research examines the origin of sulfate on Mars. The intrinsic association of sulfate minerals with water makes the understanding of sulfate formation more fascinating because of the possible association with life forms. Since sulfate minerals are an archive of past and recent processes on Mars, deciphering the fundamental aspects of their formation is the first step in the geochemical cycling and ultimately the history of water and the potential presence of life during evolution of other potentially habitable bodies such as Europa, for example. Dr. Lefticaru presents on Apollo 11 in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to land the first two people on the Moon in 1969. 

Michelle Nichols

Michelle Nichols has been with the Adler Planetarium of Chicago since 1995 and has been on many staff teams to develop exhibits, planetarium shows, and fun programs and events for Adler visitors. As Director of Public Observing, Ms. Nichols leads the Adler’s various telescope and sky observing efforts, including the ‘Scopes in the City telescope outreach program, free nighttime observing in the Doane Observatory via Doane at Dusk, Adler’s telescope volunteer program, and much more.  She has made several trips to Southern Illinois as part of the Adler's Galaxy Ride outreach program and played a major role in SIU campus events for Eclipse 2017.  Her talk, Look Up, is an overview on the night sky. 

 

The Farthest Flyer

The Farthest, Voyager in Space, a Crossing the Line and HHMI Tangled Bank Studios Production for PBS,  pbs.org/farthest. The Farthest tells the captivating tales of the people and events behind one of humanity’s greatest achievements in exploration: NASA’s Voyager mission, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this August. The twin spacecraft—each with less computing power than a cell phone—used slingshot trajectories to visit Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. They sent back unprecedented images and data that revolutionized our understanding of the spectacular outer planets and their many peculiar moons.

Still going strong four decades after launch, each spacecraft carries an iconic golden record with greetings, music and images from Earth—a gift for any aliens that might one day find it. Voyager 1, which left our solar system and ushered humanity into the interstellar age in 2012, is the farthest-flung object humans have ever created. A billion years from now, when our sun has flamed out and burned Earth to a cinder, the Voyagers and their golden records will still be sailing on—perhaps the only remaining evidence that humanity ever existed.

 

 

Bob Baer

Event Host, Bob Baer is a specialist in the SIUC Physics department where he directs the department's public astronomy observation program.  He a board member of the Astronomical Association of Southern Illinois, serves as Co-Chair of the Southern Illinois Eclipse 2017 - 2024 Steering Committee, and is a  principal member of the Citizen CATE (Continental American Telescopic Eclipse) Experiment. 

 

Event Parking

Take advantage of the free event parking and shuttle service available from SIUC lot 63. Shuttles will run every 15 minutes from 7pm to midnight.  Note: In order to enhance the star party experience and limit the number of cars entering and leaving the site, onsite parking at the astronomy observation area is being restricted for this event.  The only public access to the site for this event will be via shuttle from Lot 63.    See full event parking map for details.

 

Site Plan

The SIU Farms Astronomy Observation Area is located just two miles west of campus just off Chautauqua road.  Parking at the site for the 2019 star party is restricted to event staff and visitors bringing large telescopes into the area.   If you need a parking permit, contact, the event coordinator, Bob Baer, rbaer@siu.edu.  See event parking map for details on free parking and shuttle service to the site. 

 

 


 

Fall 2019 - Public Observations at Neckers

 

Sunday, August 18, 9-10:30pm

Free public astronomy observation hosted by the SIU Carbondale Physics Department and the Astronomical Association of Southern Illinois at the Neckers observation deck. Telescopes are provided. Children accompanied by adults are welcome. Visible this evening: Jupiter, Saturn, M57, M13.

 

Sunday, September 15, 8-9:30pm

Free public astronomy observation hosted by the SIU Carbondale Physics Department and the Astronomical Association of Southern Illinois at the Neckers observation deck. Telescopes are provided. Children accompanied by adults are welcome. Visible this evening: Jupiter, Saturn, M57, M13. 

Sunday, October 20, 6-7:30pm

Free public astronomy observation hosted by the SIU Carbondale Physics Department and the Astronomical Association of Southern Illinois at the Neckers observation deck. Telescopes are provided. Children accompanied by adults are welcome. Visible this evening: Saturn, M57, M13, M31. The Leonids meteor shower will peak this evening, and lasts from Nov 6 thru Nov 30. Meteors are produced by dust grains left behind by comet Temel-Tuttle discovered in 1865. Best viewing after midnight from a dark location, but we may see a few of the Leonids at this evening's observation.

Sunday, November 17, 6-7:30pm

Free public astronomy observation hosted by the SIU Carbondale Physics Department and the Astronomical Association of Southern Illinois at the Neckers observation deck. Telescopes are provided. Children accompanied by adults are welcome. Visible this evening: Saturn, M57, M13, M31. The Leonids meteor shower will peak this evening, and lasts from Nov 6 thru Nov 30. Meteors are produced by dust grains left behind by comet Temel-Tuttle discovered in 1865. Best viewing after midnight from a dark location, but we may see a few of the Leonids at this evening's observation.

 

 

Alternate / Special Observations

Campus and community groups can arrange special observation on campus, or we can bring telescopes to you. To make arrangements, contact Bob Baer at 618-453-2729, rbaer@physics.siu.edu.

Observation Deck and Telescopes

Telescope

The observation deck is 624 square feet in size. It is built out of 2" thick rubber matting for vibration isolation. The primary telescope is a 14" Meade LX600. This computer guided telescope is used for all observation events as well as the lab portion of PHYS 103 (Astronomy). Several additional scopes are setup for observations as needed including Celestron 8" SCTs, a Coronado SolarMax II, and a Stellarvue SV105 Raptor (105mm refractor).

Physics

Physics


Physics
Stellarvue SV105 Raptor

 

What Can You See?

Moon and Saturn

The most spectacular viewing is of the Moon and major planets such as Jupiter, Saturn, Venus and Mars. On clear nights, you can easily see the rings of Saturn and detailed striations on Jupiter. Brighter objects such as the Great Orion Nebula, the Andromeda Galaxy and several clusters are also visible visually.

Dimmer deep sky objects are typically only visible during evenings with low humidity and not much cloud cover.  On select night, deep sky cameras are utilized to display images of objects otherwise not visible though visual observations.

 

 

Previous Event Photos

 

Mars Opposition Star Party 2018. Star party at the SIU Farms for the Mars Opposition.  See photos of the event on Bob Baer's Flickr photo stream.

Eclipse 2017 at SIU Carbondale.  Southern Illinois University Carbondale hosted 30,000+ visitors to campus August 18 - 21, 2017 for four days of eclipse themed events capped off by Eclipse Day at Saluki Stadium. If you missed this, you'll want to mark your calendars for the next total solar eclipse to pass through Carbondale on April 8, 2024.  Check out the photos at: eclipse.siu.edu

Solar TelescopeJune 5, 4:00pm - 10:30 pm. Special daytime solar observation - Transit of Venus. If you missed the transit, you can see photos of the event here. Special thanks to the Astronomical Association of Southern Illinois as well as all the people who turned out and helped out on the day of the event.