University of Minnesota


Universe in the Park

Summer telescope observing program at local state parks

June – August 2015
View the full schedule of events below.

For more information, contact Chris Nolting at .

UitP – What is it?

Universe in the Park is a summer outreach program hosted by the Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics and area state and local parks. This annual program, modeled after a very successful project at the University of Wisconsin, is headed by faculty member Evan Skillman and graduate student Chris Nolting.

At our events, representatives of the Institute will present a short (20–30 min) public talk and slide show. Presentations cover a variety of astronomical topics such as: the history of matter, how astronomers "see," and a journey through our solar system.

Afterwards, if weather allows, attendees have the opportunity to view the sky through multiple 8-inch reflecting telescopes, operated by the staff and provided by the Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics. Additionally, we provide free star maps (e.g. and are happy to show visitors how to use them. Throughout the evening, we encourage questions from the audience and enjoy discussing topics ranging from backyard astronomy to the latest scientific discoveries.

Through these events, we hope to convey the excitement of modern astronomical research while simultaneously providing an enjoyable introduction to amateur astronomy. Although a vehicle permit is usually required to enter the parks, the events are free to the public. Please join us!

UItP Schedule, Summer 2015

June 19, Friday Lake Maria State Park
June 20, Saturday Nerstrand Big Woods State Park
June 26, Friday Eastman Nature Center
June 27, Saturday Afton State Park
July 3, Friday William O'Brien State Park
July 4, Saturday No UItP event
July 10, Friday Dodge Nature Center
July 11, Saturday Lowry Nature Center
July 17, Friday Interstate State Park
July 18, Saturday Wild River State Park
July 24, Friday Tettegouche State Park
July 25, Saturday Gooseberry Falls State Park
July 31, Friday William O'Brien State Park
August 1, Saturday Lake Maria State Park
August 7, Friday Nerstrand Big Woods State Park
August 8, Saturday William O'Brien State Park
August 14, Friday Father Hennepin State Park
August 15, Saturday Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

When and what time?

Events are scheduled Fridays and Saturdays (rain or shine), usually beginning in June and ending mid-August. Details for summer 2015 are still being planned, and the schedule will be posted here once it is set. Presentations typically run from 8:30 to 10:00 or 11:00pm, including telescope observing.

How much does it cost?

The events are FREE, although usually a vehicle permit is required to enter the parks. So bring your family and friends!

What should I bring/wear?

You don't need to bring anything besides yourself, friends, and an interest in astronomy: we'll provide all the equipment. However, we do have some recommendations...

  • Wear long pants/sleeves - It may be summer, but the temperature can still dip down in the evenings, and you're also not moving around very much during observing.
  • Bugspray - Nothing makes observing (or any other activity) more annoying than having to swat off mosquitos constantly! PLEASE do NOT spray it near the telescopes. Apply it beforehand or briefly walk away from the telescopes to spray.

For more information, contact Chris Nolting at .

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