September 04, 2013

Public invited to fall astronomy observations

by Tiana Russell

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Department of Physics is hosting several evening opportunities to view the moon, the stars and neighboring planets this fall.

The free public viewing will be on the observation deck of the James W. Neckers roof, above the building’s A wing, at 1245 Lincoln Drive.  All observations are dependent upon weather, and viewing space is limited.  Children accompanied by adults are welcome.

The next observation is from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 8, when Saturn, Venus and the moon will be visible just after sunset.  Later in the evening, Neptune, Pluto, the Andromeda Galaxy and the Ring Nebula should also be visible.  Event organizers will also include a presentation on the night sky.

Other scheduled viewings this fall are:

  • Oct. 27, 7-10 p.m. -- Participants will observe Neptune, Pluto, Andromeda, and the Ring Nebula, as well as several other deep-sky objects. Faculty and staff will participate in a costume star party, and episodes of classic science fiction films will be featured. Free hot chocolate will also be available.
  • Nov. 17, 8-10 p.m. -- The moon is expected to be bright this evening, with some deep sky objects also visible. The great Orion Nebula and Jupiter should be visible around 9:30 p.m.  A presentation on the night sky and free hot chocolate will accompany the observation. 
  • Dec. 8, 5-8 p.m. -- A partial moon should provide a great view, and Neptune and Jupiter will be on opposite sides of the sky at 8 p.m.  The comet ISON may also be visible just after sunset, provided that it does not burn up on its trip close to the sun in late November. The comet has the potential to be one of the brightest comets of the century and should be visible from our area. Because the visibility of comets is a little unpredictable there might be special observation times later this year.  While the Geminid meteor shower peaks on Dec. 13-14, a few Geminid meteors should be visible. A presentation on the night sky and free hot chocolate will accompany the observation.

For more information, contact Robert Baer, a specialist in the Department of Physics, at 618/453-2729 or by email at Information is also available at, or the department’s Facebook page at