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"Universe in the Park" returns this summer to Wisconsin State Parks and Forests

Published by Central Office May 23, 2017

Contact(s): Paul Holtan, state parks public affairs manager, 608-267-7517 or Universe in the Park, Dept. of Astronomy, UW-Madison, 608-262-3071

First session May 28 at Kohler-Andrae State Park

MADISON - If the weather cooperates, visitors to Wisconsin state parks and forests will have 44 opportunities at 21 different parks this summer to view and learn about the night sky by participating in the "Universe in the Park" outreach program conducted by students and staff of the Department of Astronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

If nights are clear, UW-Madison astronomy students set up telescopes for viewing the night sky during Universe in the Park programs.
If nights are clear, UW-Madison astronomy students set up telescopes for viewing the night sky during Universe in the Park programs.
Photo Credit: DNR

If the sky is clear, after a short talk and slideshow about astronomy, participants can gather around telescopes to view astronomical objects.

"Universe in the Park," (exit DNR) which began in 1996, is predicated on the idea that the best environment in which enjoy astronomy is outside under dark skies, according to Prof. Eric M. Wilcots, who coordinates the program. Wilcots said this year, the programs will focus on "exciting new discoveries in astronomy."

A typical session begins just after sunset, usually about 9 p.m., with a 20-30 minute talk and slide show about astronomy. Topics are left up to the speaker, and present a broad overview of astronomy and recent astronomical news such as the discovery of new solar systems and the latest results from the Hubble Space Telescope.

Most of the question-and-answer period takes place around the telescopes. During the height of the summer, the sessions can attract audiences of 70 to 80 people.

Visitors can show up for the slide show and question-and-answer period even if it is cloudy and the sky cannot be viewed through the telescope. If it is raining the sessions are held only if there is a shelter available.

Universe in the Park events are free, but visitors to Wisconsin State Parks and Forests must have a daily or annual vehicle admission sticker.

Anyone interested in attending a session should always contact the park to make sure the program is being held as scheduled, because the schedule occasionally changes. A "UitP Schedule" (exit DNR) is available on the Universe in the Park website and these and other astronomy events at Wisconsin state park properties can be found by searching the DNR website for "Get Outdoors" and selecting "astronomy" under the activity "type" button.

2017 Universe in the Park Schedule

May 28Kohler-Andrae State Park
June 10Mirror Lake State Park
June 16Devil's Lake State Park
June 17Governor Dodge State Park
June 24Kettle Moraine State Forest--Southern Unit
July 1 Yellowstone Lake State Park
July 7 Devil's Lake State Park and Interstate State Park
July 8 Mirror Lake State Park and Willow River State Park
July 13 Peninsula State Park
July 14 Newport State Park
July 15 Governor Dodge State Park and Rock Island State Park
July 16 Potawatomi State Park
July 19 Devil's Lake State Park
July 22 Governor Thompson State Park and Kohler-Andrae State Park
July 29 Buckhorn State Park and Kettle Moraine State Forest--Southern Unit
August 5Devil's Lake State Park
August 11Peninsula State Park
August 12Governor Dodge State Park and Newport State Park
August 13Rock Island State Park
August 17Amnicon Falls State Park
August 18Copper Falls State Park and Willow River State Park
August 19Big Bay State Park and Interstate State Park
August 26Kettle Moraine State Forest--Southern Unit, Mirror Lake State Park and Roche-A-Cri State Park
September 1Potawatomi State Park
September 2Peninsula State Park and Yellowstone Lake State Park
September 3Newport State Park and New Glarus Woods State Park
September 16Buckhorn State Park
September 23Governor Dodge State Park and Kohler-Andrae State Park
September 23Kettle Moraine State Forest--Southern Unit
September 30Copper Falls State Park
September 30Devil's Lake State Park
October 7Peninsula State Park
Last Revised: Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Contact information

For more information about news and media, contact:
James Dick
Director of Communications
608-267-2773