Amateur Astronomy Under The Big Sky
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  • PBS Special – City Dark

    If you missed the showing on PBS Last night… Just a quick reminder that the City Dark, an excellent documentary on the effects of light pollution, is now streaming for free on the PBS website until August 5. You can watch it here:

  • 2012 Stars Over Yellowstone

    The SMAS public outreach event Stars Over Yellowstone is ready to kick off it’s 15th year.  This coming weekend we will be heading to the Yellowstone National Park for two lectures followed by star parties at the Madison amphitheater,  and one solar observing at Old Faithful Visitor Center.  These are fun weekends!  We’ll post pictures when we get back.

  • Aurora display

    Stars Over Bozeman started their 4th season of star parties at the hundred acre park.  The evening started out cloudy but we still set up and had a few guests.  It cleard and an aurora gave a display. Dates for the next Stars Over Bozeman are: July 14 and August 11. Hope to see you then.

  • Received a deposit for 57.95

    Deposits made directly to the bank need to have Identified the person making the deposit. I have one I can’t read. If you made a deposit on 5/29 please let me know.

  • Transit of Venus

    It is one week until the Transit of Venus Celebration at Bobcat Stadium on Tuesday, June 5.  This is one of the rarest of astronomical events.

    3:30pm – Gates open
    4:00pm – Welcome address by President Cruzado.
    4:05pm – First contact (ingress exterior), ie the transit starts.
    4:30pm – Space Public Outreach Team presentation by Lincoln Gulley
    5:30pm – Transit of Venus presentation by David McKenzie
    7:00pm – Event ends
    The transit will be in progress until sunset.

    This event will be held rain or shine.  We will have a live NASA TV stream
    on the stadium scoreboard so even if it is cloudy or raining guests will be
    able to see the transit of Venus live from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory
    (SDO) satellite.  The Cat Shack will be open for concessions.  There will be
    a bounce house, face painting, and solar system activities.

    The Bozeman Daily Chronicle had a nice article with some more information regarding the transit.

    Update: Despite rain, hail, wind, lightening and thunder a crowd of 2,000 came out to the stadium for the transit.  We only got about 20 minutes of good viewing time, but what we saw was amazing!

  • Taylor Planetarium Upgrade

    Think back to 1985.  Where were you?  Remember what your phone was like, were you one of the lucky ones who had a cell phone? What about your computer? How about your hair style or your clothes? Were you just like Don Johnson on Miami Vice?  That was the year of Back to the Future, Cocoon and Rocky IV.

    Do you still use that same computer or phone?  Well our beloved Taylor Planetarium still uses the state of the art technology from when it opened back in 1985.  The Taylor Planetarium is a 40-ft, 104-seat domed theater located at the Museum of the Rockies. The Planetarium provides a unique look at the Montana night sky and has a variety of educational shows year-round.  The Taylor Planetarium currently uses an Evans and Sutherland Digistar Two digital planetarium projector and is in the initial stages of an upgrade to the projection system and planetarium equipment that is slated for 2013.

    A new Taylor Planetarium will open in March 2013

    Last year the Museum asked members about the planetarium in an online survey, and 485 responded. The bottom line was that although  members value the planetarium as a benefit of membership, it was time to update the technology and offer fresh, current programming. Teachers had been suggesting the same thing and since 88% of the schools that visit the Museum want to see a planetarium show, they took their concerns seriously, too.

    The new planetarium is going digital, meaning that you will be able to see the same shows that visitors to any big city planetarium could see. The MoR will acquire a collection of new shows that reflect current research and update our K-12 school shows to the digital format.  You’ll see other changes, too, including new and expanded seating, sound system, lighting, and a face-lift for the facility.

    As 2012 unfolds, there will be opportunities to help with the “Building Bigger Skies” $1.5 million fundraising effort. Since the Museum of the Rockies is the home of SMAS, we encourage you to take a look and join in on the efforts.  Thanks.

  • First Light

    This past weekend SMAS club members gathered out in the country for a potluck on Saturday evening.  It was great seeing everyone and the food was fantastic.  We did some observing while we were out there.  Luckily we did, because we were skunked out for the eclipse on Sunday.  We got first light on the updated 12″ SCT and the H-Alpha.  Truly amazing. Photos have been promised to show all the work that the guys have been doing.  These will be added to the gallery as soon as I get them.

    Next big event… the ToV!  Wahoo, can’t wait.

  • Annular Solar Eclipse – Sunday May 20, 2012

    A partial annular solar eclipse will occur on Sunday May 20th.  SMAS members be setting up our sun funnel and scopes equipped with special solar filters at the Museum of the Rockies for safe public viewing of this event starting at 7:00p.m. At totality, approximately 7:22 p.m,. the moon will cover around 71% of the sun.

    The public is invited to come out and view this spectacular event.  Follow the signs, we will be setting up around the side near the Tinsley House.

    Please be advised that viewing of this event with the naked eye or other non safe viewing methods can and will cause damage to the eye.  SMAS will have special filters and other methods for safe viewing.

    Shield your Eyes!

  • Directory of members for SMAS

    Hi members,

    I think its about time for a club directory with pictures. I need some feed back because I know some of you won’t. So it does not have to be complete, some of us don’t even know the other members email. First do you want your club email address in a directory? Email you opinions to bobwiersma1322@ .

  • Summer Workshop with Project Archaeology

    We had a great turn out for Ivy Merriot’s Big Horn Medicine Wheel talk in March.  Ivy is back with a workshop for teachers and other interested people July 25-26 at the Museum of the Rockies.  A description of the class says: This workshop provides a model for the instruction of the new Project Archaeology Special Topic Unit on Archaeoastronomy. Students will learn the basic skills of skywatching while looking for evidence of skywatching at specific archaeoastronomy sites. Workshop participants will learn how stones and landscape features align with the Sun and stars to establish a sense of time and an awareness of place. Students will experience how oral histories and mythologies narrate the relationships seen in the sky. Participants (modeling the learner’s behavior) will build archaeoastronomical structures, create alignments that other participants will investigate, interpret evidence through pictures, writing and stories, and explore how ancient people made use of the sky to pass on knowledge through time.  Please email Ivy Merriot at for more information