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