January 17, 2019
SIU 2019 astronomy observations kick off Sunday with total lunar eclipse
CARBONDALE, Ill. – The moon will turn an eerie shade of red this weekend before disappearing completely during a total lunar eclipse. The event marks the first official public astronomy 2019 observations hosted by the Department of Physics at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
Event set for overnight, Sunday-Monday
The total lunar eclipse viewing event is set to begin at 9:30 p.m. Sunday and will last until 1 a.m. Monday morning.
The event will take place on the north side of the Neckers Building, between Neckers and the Student Center, as well as on the Neckers astronomy observation deck. Organizers will set up telescopes for public use and visitors are welcome to bring their own telescopes, photography equipment and chairs to the ground level observation area between Neckers and the Student Center.
An awesome show in the sky
A lunar eclipse is a spectacular sight in which the moon gradually darkens as it passes into the Earth's shadow, going from full to crescent and eventually turning a dark shade of orange or maroon, said Bob Baer, specialist in the physics degree program, and coordinator of the observation events.
“The color of the moon during a total lunar eclipse is similar to a sunset on Earth,” Baer said, adding that several interesting celestial objects also will be visible during that evening. The best opportunity for deep-sky viewing comes when the moon is fully shaded, which darkens the sky further.
Staff on hand to help
Physics students, staff, and amateur astronomers will be on hand to answer questions and assist with telescopes. 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 the event will be visible from Southern Illinois as well as all of North and South America. The Neckers building will be partially open that evening with a live stream of the lunar eclipse shown in Neckers lecture hall 240.
SIU hosts free public observations on the third Sunday of each month during the fall and spring semesters. Observations start one hour after sunset and last about 90 minutes. Participants typically observe bright sky objects such as the moon, major planets, star clusters nebula and some deep sky objects such as the Andromeda Galaxy.
Additional observation dates for the spring semester include:
6:30-8 p.m. Feb. 17
Hosted by the SIU physics department and the Astronomical Association of Southern Illinois at the Neckers astronomy observation deck. Telescopes provided. Children accompanied by adults are welcome. Mars, Uranus, the moon, Great Orion Nebula and the Pleiades.
8-9:30 p.m. March 17
Hosted by the SIU physics department and the Astronomical Association of Southern Illinois at the Neckers observation deck. Telescopes provided. Children accompanied by adults are welcome. Viewing opportunities include: Mars, Uranus, the Moon, Great Orion Nebula the Pleiades.
8:30-10 p.m. April 21
Hosted by the SIU physics department and the Astronomical Association of Southern Illinois at the Neckers observation deck. Telescopes provided. Children accompanied by adults are welcome. Viewing opportunities include: Mars, Uranus, Great Orion Nebula and the Pleiades.
July 12 – Southern Illinois Summer Star Party
Hosted by SIU physics department and the Astronomical Association of Southern Illinois in partnership with the Adler Planetarium of Chicago. The event will be held at the SIU Dark Site west of campus. More information to be announced.
All observations are weather dependent and space-limited. The Neckers observation deck is not handicap accessible, however officials can arrange for telescopes to be setup at ground level for individuals not able to take stairs to the observation deck. Those with large groups or other special needs, please contact the event coordinator in advance of the event.
For up to the minute event info and online discussion, see the physics department FaceBook event info page.