Astronomy Events | Physics | SIU | Night Sky Network

Home
Southern Illinois University

CONTACT

SIU.EDU

College of Science

Telescopes

Public Astronomy Observations

The SIU Carbondale Physics Department hosts free public observations the 3rd Sunday of each month starting half an 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  Summer - Fall 2018

 

Sunday, June 17, 9pm - 10:30pm @ Neckers

Free public astronomy observation hosted by the SIU Carbondale Physics Department at the Neckers observation deck. Telescopes are provided. Visible this evening: The Moon, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, M57. Children accompanied by adults are welcome.

Sunday, July 15, 8:45pm - 10:15pm @ Neckers

Free public astronomy observation hosted by the SIU Carbondale Physics Department at the Neckers observation deck.  Telescopes are provided. Visible this evening: The Moon, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, M57, Mars. Children accompanied by adults are welcome.

Friday, July 27, 8:30pm - midnight @ SIU Farms (Mars Opposition)

Join the SIU Physics department and the Astronomical Association of Southern Illinois for this free public astronomy observation at the SIU Farms dark site. Mars will shine brightly as it makes it's closest approach to the earth since 2003.

What is Opposition? 
Opposition occurs as Mars lines up in opposition to the Sun relative to the Earth.  The Earth and Mars aligned closest to each other around the time of opposition although the planets are still about 36 million miles apart at this time.  What we notice most on Earth is how bright Mars appears in the night sky as it is closer to us and reflects sunlight more directly back at the Earth. Mars reaches a maximum brightness of about -2.8, just slightly brighter than Jupiter.

How big will Mars be? 
Mars varies in apparent size between about 3.5 and 25 arc seconds.  By comparison, Jupiter varies in size between 30 and 50 arc seconds.  So at it's closest, Mars will still be slightly smaller than Jupiter appears at it's smallest.  Even on this weekend, it will still appear like a small orange dot in the sky.  With the aid of a telescope however, it is possible to see features such as the polar ice caps, which are only visible when the Earth and Mars are close to each other. 

Where is the SIU Farms Dark Site? 
The SIU Farms Dark Site is located 2 miles west of the SIU campus off Chautauqua road.  The entrance will be marked with signage.  Take the gravel lane (Autumn Point Road) about 1/2 mile onto the SIU Farms property to the observation area.  Those arriving after dark should be conscious of light pollution. Use low beams only and follow instructions of parking attendants.

What facilities are at SIU Farms Dark Site? 
The SIU Farms Dark Site has 10 concrete telescope pads, grass parking, and porta potty restroom facilities. There is no running water or power at the site.  Visitors should bring their own chairs or blankets, bug spray, and drinks / snacks. 


Can I bring my own telescope? 
Yes!  Visitors with bulky scopes and equipment are encouraged to arrive early while it is still light to allow time to setup on one of the 10 concrete telescope pads.  Gates open at 7:30pm for the general public. Those needing additional setup time should contact the event coordinator.

Event protocol and courtesy. 
Red lights only in the observations area after dark.  No flash photography.   Stay on gravel lane when driving to the site and park only in designated areas as directed by attendants.  Drive slowly to avoid kicking up excessive dust.  Some, but not all telescopes at this event will be available for public use.  Please ask scope operators for assistance before using a telescope. This is a family friendly event.

For more information contact event coordinator, Bob Baer, rbaer@siu.edu, 618-453-2729. 

This event hosted by the Southern Illinois University Carbondale Physics Department and the Astronomical Association of Southern Illinois. Event is weather dependent and times are subject to change.

 

Sunday, August 19, 8:15pm - 9:45pm @ Neckers

Free public astronomy observation hosted by the SIU Carbondale Physics Department at the Neckers observation deck. Telescopes are provided. Visible this evening: Venus, Jupiter, the Moon, Saturn, Mars, M57. Children accompanied by adults are welcome.

Sunday, September 16, 7:30pm - 9pm @ Neckers

Free public astronomy observation hosted by the SIU Carbondale Physics Department at the Neckers observation deck. Telescopes are provided. Visible this evening: Juipter, the Moon, Uranus, M57, M31. Children accompanied by adults are welcome.

Sunday, October 21, 6:45pm - 8:15pm @ Neckers

Free public astronomy observation hosted by the SIU Carbondale Physics Department at the Neckers observation deck. Telescopes are provided. Visible this evening: Saturn, mars, Neptune, the Moon, Uranus, M57, M31. Children accompanied by adults are welcome

Sunday, November 18, 5:15pm - 7pm @ Neckers

Free public astronomy observation hosted by the SIU Carbondale Physics Department at the Neckers observation deck. Telescopes are provided. Visible this evening: Saturn, Mars, Neptune, the Moon, Uranus, M57, M31. Children accompanied by adults are welcome

Sunday, December 16, 5:15pm - 7pm @ Neckers

Free public astronomy observation hosted by the SIU Carbondale Physics Department at the Neckers observation deck. Telescopes are provided. Visible this evening:  Mars, Neptune, the Moon, Uranus, M57, M31. Children accompanied by adults are welcome

 

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.

Additional observations TBS.

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 Stelarvue SV105 Raptor (105mm refractor).

Physics

Physics


Physics
Stellarvue SV105 Raptor

Previous Event Photos

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.

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.