Southern Illinois Star Party 2024

Free Public Astronomy Observation at the SIU University Farms Astronomy Observation Area from 7pm to midnight.  2024 DATE TBA.

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 night time and solar 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, Mars, 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.

For disability accommodations call 618-453-5738. Disabled visitors or those bringing telescope equipment that would be difficult to transport by shuttle may contact or call the office of events and outreach at 618-453-7424 for a free onsite parking permit.

No registration or tickets required attend this event.

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. 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 83% illumination this evening and is visible from roughly 10:15pm on. 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 9 pm this evening. It should be visible from about 9:15pm throughout the rest of the event.  Larger telescopes will be able to resolve the rings of Saturn which will appear at a slight tilt this evening.

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.

Join us on Facebook

For more information and discussion about the event, please visit our facebook event about the Star Party

All activities are weather permitting.

For questions or more information, contact University Events at: (618)-453-7424 or email