Public Astronomy Observations
Observation Schedule 2022
2022 Southern Illinois Star Party
Free Public Astronomy Observation on Saturday, August 6, 2022 at the SIU University Farms Astronomy Observation Area from 7pm to midnight.
Join SIU Carbondale, the Astronomical Association of Southern Illinois, and the Adler Planetarium of Chicago for a free night of guided telescope observations as well as family friendly astronomy and science activities. Enjoy an evening under the stars at the SIU University Farms Astronomy Observation Area. The site is 2 miles west SIU’s main campus in a semi-dark area that offers good views of the night sky.
Several telescopes operated by amateur astronomers and SIU School of Physics and Applied Physics faculty, staff, and students will be available to the public this evening. Visitors will be able to see the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, and other celestial objects.
Visitors are welcome to bring their own lawn chairs and blankets as well as photography or telescope equipment. Free shuttles will run from SIU Parking lot # 63 at the corner of Oakland and Chautauqua streets throughout the evening. Parking at the site is very limited and available by permit only.
Individuals with disabilities are welcomed. For disability accommodations call 618-453-5738. Disabled visitors or those bringing telescope equipment that would be difficult to transport by shuttle may contact eclipse.siu.edu for a free onsite parking permit.
Additional small group activities will run throughout the evening on various topics such as types and use of telescopes, light, color, and meteorites. Short presentations on the night sky will take place at the top of each hour.
Limited concessions for purchase will be available on site.
Note that you will likely be in close proximity to people throughout the evening. Masks are recommended, but not required. If you are feeling sick or have recently been exposed to Covid, please stay home.
Details of celestial objects we’ll be looking at this evening:
Safe solar viewing is possible through special filtered white light and Hydrogen-Alpha solar scopes until sunset at 8:00pm. The filtered telescope allow us to observe solar activity such as prominences and sunspots.
Mercury is visible low on the horizon from roughly 8:15pm until 8:40pm. Because it is so close to the Sun, it is a difficult planet to observe.
The Moon will be at 80% illumination this evening and is visible for the entire event. It is so bright compared to other objects in the sky that we will be using filters to cut down the intensity of it on our telescopes. Look for scopes with cell phone adapters at the event so you can get your own pic of the Moon.
Saturn rises at 8:20pm this evening. It should be visible by about 8:45pm and throughout the rest of the event. The planet reaches opposition (on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun) and orbits at its shortest distance from the Earth in August 2022 when it shines the brightest. Though Saturn will be at its largest apparent size this month, it will still look like a small oval shape through binoculars. Larger telescopes will be able to resolve the rings of Saturn which will appear at a slight tilt this evening.
Jupiter reaches opposition in late September, but is still relatively close to us in August. Even with modest binoculars you can see the 4 Galilean moons of Jupiter. Through medium and larger telescopes you will be able to see detail on the planet’s disk that reveals variation such as storms in the atmosphere. Take several looks at Jupiter throughout the evening and you will notice the moons slowly orbiting the planet. Over several hours you can sometimes see one of the moons appear or disappear as they go in front of or behind the planet.
Several stars and deep sky objects such as M13 (Hercules Globular Cluster) M57 (Ring Nebula), M31 (Andromeda galaxy) will be visible this evening through larger telescopes. These deep sky objects referred to as “faint fuzzies” are difficult to see with all but the largest scopes. Don’t expect to see images like you may in a full color photograph. Viewed though the eyepiece of a portable telescope, these distant objects appear as faint monochrome images.
All activities are weather permitting.
For questions or more information, contact University Events at: (618)-453-7424 or email email@example.com.
Observation Deck and Telescopes
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).
What Can You See?
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 theme 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