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:
Observation Schedule 2019
Sunday, January 20, 9:30pm to Jan 21, 1am @ Neckers Special Event - Total Lunar Eclipse
Free public astronomy observation hosted by the SIU Carbondale Physics Department and the Astronomical Association of Southern Illinois. Telescopes for public use will be setup on the North side of Neckers between Neckers and the SIU Student Center as well as on the Neckers astronomy observation deck. Physics students, staff, and amateur astronomers will be on hand to answer questions and assist with telescopes. Visitors are welcome to bring their own telescopes, photography equipment and chairs to the ground level observation area between Neckers and the Student Center. Space on the astronomy observation deck is limited and will be on a first come first served basis. Children accompanied by adults are welcome. All phases of this spectacular total lunar eclipse will be visible from Southern Illinois as well as all of North and South America. The Neckers building will be partially open this evening with a live stream of the lunar eclipse shown in Neckers lecture hall 240. Local contact times for Carbondale:
|Penumbral Eclipse begins||Jan 20 at 8:36 pm|
|Partial Eclipse begins||Jan 20 at 9:33 pm|
|Full Eclipse begins||Jan 20 at 10:41 pm|
|Maximum Eclipse||Jan 20 at 11:12 pm|
|Full Eclipse ends||Jan 20 at 11:43 pm|
|Partial Eclipse ends||Jan 21 at 12:50 am|
|Penumbral Eclipse ends||Jan 21 at 1:48 am|
A lunar eclipse is a spectacular sight where the Moon is gradually darkened as it passes into the Earth's shadow going from full to crescent, and eventually turning a dark shade of orange or maroon. The color of the Moon during a total lunar eclipse is similar to a sunset on Earth. In addition to the Moon, several interesting celestial objects will be visible this evening with the best deep sky viewing happening when the moon is fully shaded and the skies darken during totality.
Sunday, Feb 17, 2019, 6:30pm to 8pm @ Neckers
Free public astronomy observation hosted by the SIU Carbondale Physics Department and the Astronomical Association of Southern Illinois at the Neckers astronomy observation deck. Telescopes provided. Children accompanied by adults are welcome. Visible this evening: Mars, Uranus, the Moon, Great Orion Nebula the Pleiades.
Sunday, March 17, 2019, 8pm to 9:30pm @ Neckers
Sunday, April 21, 2019, 8:30pm to 10pm @ Neckers
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: Mars, Great Orion Nebula the Pleiades.
Friday, July, 12, 2019, Southern Illinois Summer Star Party @ the SIU Farms.
Hosted by the SIU Carbondale Physics Department and the Astronomical Association of Southern Illinois in partnership with the Adler Planetarium of Chicago. More information TBA
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, 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 Stelarvue SV105 Raptor (105mm refractor).
Stellarvue SV105 Raptor
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 photostream.
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: ecilpse.siu.edu
June 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.