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New Telescope to be Unveiled at U of I With Public Star Parties

MOSCOW — The College of Science invites the public to celebrate University of Idaho’s new telescope at star parties 7-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 9-10. 

Department of Physics faculty and students will demonstrate the new telescope and identify celestial objects for star party guests. The new telescope is a 20-inch Imaging Dall Kirkham reflector.

Jason Barnes, professor of physics, says the telescope’s large diameter and precise pointing let viewers see objects deeper into space and farther away from light sources. That allows astronomers to observe dimmer astronomical objects, including dim galaxies and nebulae, and to capture short exposure images, which help measure the brightness of stars, explore solar systems and minimize the twinkling of solar system planets that inhibits image quality.

“Students and the public alike will really appreciate the opportunity to bring the stars back home to the Palouse, and to get firsthand views of the celestial objects in the night sky that we’ve only seen in pictures,” Barnes said. “We’re really looking forward to being able to put the new instrument to use over the coming years.”

The telescope will be used for teaching and research. Students in lab courses will use the telescope to view galaxies, star clusters, planets and other objects. Faculty members plan to host occasional public observing nights at the telescope. The events will mostly occur in summer and fall, when skies are clear.

Parking is not available at the observatory. Event attendees should park across the street from the Wallace Residence Center at 1080 W. Sixth St. in lots 17, 19 and 56. The Vandal Trolley will provide transportation from a bus shelter in front of Wallace. Participants are advised to wear sturdy shoes and to bring lawn chairs and water, if needed. If skies become cloudy, that night’s event will be canceled.