Amateur Astronomy Under The Big Sky
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  • 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

  • Telescope Class

    After our committee got together to compare schedules and all other things pertinent to holding a successful event, it was decided that it was best to hold the telescope class at another time.  We are sorry for any inconvenience.  We will keep you posted on this blog when a new date has been set.

  • Saskatchewan Summer Star Party

    Saskatchewan Summer Star Party will be held August 16-19th at Cypress Hills Inter provisional park. Contact Rick Huziak @ (306) 665-3392 or e-mail

  • A good day of outreach

    Saturday April 21st was Astronomy Day.  The sun cooperated, we had 5 active solar regions.  Over 800 visitors came to the Museum of the Rockies to visit the booths, listen to speakers, teacher workshops, participate in solar viewing and other fun activities.  The event was on the local news and made the paper, too.  Everyday People section of the news paper on Monday had a great article.  The club used the new Sun Funnel for the first time.  What a great tool.  Members decided that they needed to make another one.  Pictures will be added soon.  Thanks to everyone who came to help with our SMAS booths, both solar and lunar.

    Our next event is a SMAS member pot luck on April 28th, where we will get first light on the refurbished 12″ scope.

  • Summer Star Party Dates

    We have several dates set for star/solar viewing opportunities this coming summer.

    Annular Solar Eclipse viewing – May 20, 2012

    Transit of Venus viewing – June 5, 2012 (next one will be 2117)

    Stars over Bozeman – June 16, July 14, August 11, 2012

    Stars over Yellowstone – June 22/23, July 20/21, August 17/18

    Ruby Valley Star Party – August 16-19

    Lunch on the Lawn @ the Emerson solar viewing (dates to come)

  • Astronomy Day 2012

      Saturday April 21, 2012 at the Museum of the Rockies, join us for Astronomy Day.  The committee is working hard on putting together another fun event this year.  Dr. David Levy, founder of several comets, is scheduled to be our guest speaker.  Activities, teacher classes, exhibits and solar viewing are also on the schedule.  More information will be posted as we get closer to the event.  This event is free and open to the public.