Universe in the Park
Universe in the Park (UitP) is a popular outreach program of the Department of Astronomy at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. UitP is predicated on a very simple idea: the best environment in which to introduce the general public to astronomy is outside under dark skies.
Since 1996, we have taken UitP to state parks throughout Wisconsin during the summer camping season, giving talks and slide shows, answering questions, and letting the general public view astronomical objects through one of the UitP telescopes.
A typical UitP session begins just after sunset with a 30-40 minute talk and slide show about astronomy. While particular topics are left up to the presenters, they usually give a broad overview of one or two astronomy topics. Recent astronomical news is frequently discussed, such as the discovery of new solar systems, the demotion of Pluto, and the latest results from the Hubble Space Telescope. The talks are presented for audiences of all ages.
At the conclusion of the talk, weather permitting, we set up a moderate aperture (8"-10") telescope and provide park visitors the opportunity to view available astronomical objects. UitP sessions run as long as there are people interested in looking through the telescope, and the parks typically close before the interest has been sated.
The statewide Universe in the Park program of the UW-Madison Astronomy Department is funded, in its entirety, by the generous support of Jere and Anne Fluno.