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Observatory Spring Sessions Set

JAN. 25, 2008--The University of Wisconsin-River Falls physics department begins its spring season of free, public observatory viewings and pre-viewing talks on the first clear night of Feb. 11-14 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. in Centennial Science Hall.

The first stargazing session includes an introductory talk by Professor Matt Vonk, who will present "The Best of Tonight's Sky" at 7:30 p.m. in Room 271, Centennial Science Hall. His talk precedes the 8 p.m. viewing on the CSH third floor observation deck. Vonk will discuss how the eye is limited when viewing objects through a telescope and will present pictures of celestial objects that will be compared to the same objects seen through the telescope with the naked eye. Special note will be made of Saturn, Mars and the crescent moon during this viewing.

All observatory viewings are scheduled on the first clear night only, Monday-Thursday. To check on the clarity of the sky, call 715-425-3560 or visit and click on "observatory" to see whether the night is clear enough for the program.

Other viewings this semester will include:

"Dieter's Dream: Weightlessness and Space Travel," March 10-13, 8 p.m., Physics Professor Eileen Korenic will describe what is meant by weightlessness and how astronauts have to adapt their activities to deal with conditions of reduced gravity. The talk will include film clips of astronauts eating, sleeping and working on the Space Shuttle while it is in the free-falling orbit that produces weightlessness.

"Toys in Space," April 7-10, 8:30 p.m. Physics Professor Eileen Korenic will demonstrate the principles and show film clips of Space Shuttle mission 51L in which astronauts took common toys into space to see how they might behave in weightlessness. Toys included on this mission were a yo-yo, magnetic whirly-gig, race car and track, ball and jacks, and a jumping plastic rodent called "Rat Stuff."

"A Star by Any Other Name," May 5-8, 9 p.m. Physics Professor Eileen Korenic will talk about how some of the brightest stars got their names, why some stars have multiple names, and how stars are named today. She will also discuss why you can't really "buy" or "own" a star even though there are a lot of companies willing to "sell."

About the Observatory

The UWRF Observatory houses a 16-inch Meade computer-controlled LX200GPS Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope and two 12-inch Meade LX200 telescopes that are usually mounted on the observing deck during public stargazing sessions.

Viewers can expect to see a selection of deep sky objects, such as galaxies, nebulae and star clusters. A physics department faculty member, student or guest astronomer will staff each telescope and be available to answer any questions. Observers are encouraged to stay and look at as many elements as possible and feel free to request personal observing targets.

Since the dome is unheated and the observing deck is outside in the open air, visitors are advised to dress appropriately for the weather.

For more information on the observatory contact Glenn Spiczak ( or on pre-viewing talks Eileen Korenic (


Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:08:46 Central Daylight Time


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