Amateur Astronomy Under The Big Sky
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  • March – Winter Lecture Series

    Join us for our March Winter Lecture by one of our club members – Ivy Merriot, free and open to the public. Hagar Auditorium at the Museum of the Rockies, short SMAS club meeting following the lecture.

    March 30, 2012: Archaeoastronomy of the Big Horn Medicine Wheel – Ivy Merriot

    The Big Horn Medicine Wheel rests at nearly 10,000 ft in Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountains, only a few miles from the Montana border. It is a federally recognized Historic Landmark and Sacred Site although no indigenous people claim to have built it or have knowledge of when it was built. Forty years ago, solstice and stellar alignments embodied in the Big Horn Medicine Wheel were discovered by the solar physicist John Eddy, who then used these alignments to date the wheel’s origin. His results were published in the research journal Science in 1974. Recognition of this American “Stonehenge” caused a world-wide stir in the popular media with major newspapers and National Geographic taking notice. In 2012, evidence suggests this ”observatory” continues to track and predict astronomical changes through time.

  • Aurora Detection Network

    “Sold Out” was what the signs on the doors to the Museum of the Rockies said last night shortly after the doors opened.  The Hagar Auditorium was filled to capacity for the kick off of the 2012 Winter Lecture Series.  A local television news camera was already set up in the lobby by the time our speaker, Dr. Joseph Shaw, arrived early at the museum.  Dr. Joe Shaw is a professor at Montana State University and the director of the Optical Technology Center, he was scheduled to come to talk about “Enjoying the Aurora in Montana’ as well as announce the launching (in beta) of the new Aurora Detection Network , based out of MSU.  Everybody loves aurora’s, so when the local paper picked up the announcement for the lecture, the Chronicle decided to put full color pictures and an article on the front page of Friday’s paper Lighting up the Night .  Seeing the large influx of visitors, Joe quickly offered to do two lectures, back to back.  The Hagar was quickly filled twice.  The lecture was  interactive, very informative and filled with awesome aurora pictures.

  • Winter Lecture Series 2012

    Join us for the 2012 Winter Lecture Series.  7:00  p.m. in the Hagar Auditorium at the Museum of the Rockies.  Admission is free, bring a friend.

    January 27, 2012: Enjoying the Aurora in Montana – Dr. Joe Shaw

     

    The Aurora Borealis is a colorful display of natural lights that can be seen frequently in the dark winter skies at high latitudes. Although people in the United States generally consider Montana to be a “northern” location, its location near 45 degrees latitude tells the true story that ours is really a mid-latitude location. Nevertheless, the aurora can be seen in Montana often enough to make it highly worthwhile to pay attention to the conditions and timing that lead to these beautiful displays. This presentation will review the physical causes of the aurora and demonstrate Internet sources of information that can help predict when an aurora might be visible in Montana. One of these tools is a recently developed online network of optical aurora detectors developed at Montana State University – Bozeman and installed around Montana. Beautiful photographs of the aurora will be included throughout the talk.

     

     

    February 24, 2012:  NASA’s Future Space Telescopes – Dr. Joe Howard

     

    What kind of telescopes are in space right now, and what is the future of telescopes in space?  What do we hope to discover with these long-gazing eyes? What goes into these machines built on Earth, and what is needed to keep them running in space?

    Dr. Joe Howard will discuss the past, present, and future state of optics in space. Joe serves as the lead optical designer for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the successor to Hubble Space Telescope.  He will discuss telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope, James Webb Space Telescope, and WFIRST missions.

     

     

    March 30, 2012: Archaeoastronomy of the Big Horn Medicine Wheel – Ivy Merriot

     

    The Big Horn Medicine Wheel rests at nearly 10,000 ft in Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountains, only a few miles from the Montana border. It is a federally recognized Historic Landmark and Sacred Site although no indigenous people claim to have built it or have knowledge of when it was built. Forty years ago, solstice and stellar alignments embodied in the Big Horn Medicine Wheel were discovered by the solar physicist John Eddy, who then used these alignments to date the wheel’s origin. His results were published in the research journal Science in 1974. Recognition of this American “Stonehenge” caused a world-wide stir in the popular media with major newspapers and National Geographic taking notice. In 2012, evidence suggests this ”observatory” continues to track and predict astronomical changes through time. 

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  • October meeting change

    Our October meeting is moving to Friday November 4th.   In the Redstart room, downstairs at the Museum of the Rockies starting at 7:00 p.m.

    Our November and December meetings typically combine due to holidays and meets the first Friday of December, so we’ll be meeting on December 2nd.  At the Museum of the Rockies in the Redstart room starting at 7:00 p.m..  The December meeting is also our elections meeting.    We have several openings on our board, many hands make light work, and it’s a great way to get to know other members.

  • International Observe the Moon Night

    Join SMAS at the Museum of the Rockies plaza on Saturday October 8, from 6:00-7:30 p.m. for the International Observe the Moon Night.  SMAS will bring out telescopes and have several moon activities for visitors.  Many people think that the best time to observe the moon is when it is full, but that is probably the worst time to look at the moon.  When the moon is full it tends to be dazzlingly bright as well as flat and one dimensional.  On Saturday we will have a Waxing Gibbous moon which will give the moon more definition from the shadows of the mountains and craters.  Clouds Cancel.

    Forecasters say Earth is heading for a stream of dust from Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner.   A close encounter with the comet’s fragile debris could spark a meteor outburst over parts of our planet on October 8th – another fun thing we’ll be watching for.

  • From the Big Bang to Broadway: How Things Evolve – Lecture at MOR

    Thursday, Sept. 1 at 7pm, Museum of the Rockies
    Join Robert M. Hazen of the Carnegie Institute of Washington for a presentation on how things evolve. Hazen will compare evolution is everything from the development of language and progress in culture and the arts, to the formation of chemical elements in stars following the Big Bang and diversification of minerals on Earth-like planets. The similarities and differences among these systems underscore general principles of emergent complexity and underscore the power and plausibility of biological evolution.
    Free and open to the public. Presented by the MSU Astrobiology Biogeocatalysis Research Center.

  • Follow Us

    You can follow  us on Twitter @1SMAS or like our Facebook Page, search under Southwest Montana Astronomical Society.  We’re trying to follow the new technologies that are emerging in today’s society.  We’ve had our solar observing schedule sent out on twitter as well as posted on FB by NightSkyNetwork and CamillaSDO this past summer.

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Southwest-Montana-Astronomical-Society/134749956618566?ref=hl

  • The Astronomer

    ‘The Astronomer’

    It appears my reputation as ‘The Astronomer’ precedes me.  Here is an example.  I was at the office of my dentist.  Everybody there knows already of my interest.  During the examination Tanya (name changed), one of the technicians, walked by and asked

    “Hey Fred, how are the stars these days?”

    Fred: “Good, they are still there”

    Later I thought I needed to amend my simplistic answer.

    F.: “Actually, somewhere out there in the vast universe some stars have exploded in the meantime, they are called novae.”

    Now Dr. Perry (name changed) is interested.

    P.: “Will the sun explode too?”

    F.: “No, it will not, it is not massive enough. But, it will toward the end of its life turn into a red giant and swell in size to the orbit of Mars and most likely consume the four inner planet including Earth.”

    P.:“Whow, when will this happen?”

    F.: “In about four to five billion years.”

    P.: “Ah, that’s good to hear, that’s a long time out.  But if ‘we’ still inhabit Earth at that time we better make sure we have left the planet.”

    F.: “We have four billion years to learn how to practice interstellar space flight”

    P.: “Yeah that is a good justification of space flight.”

    There is always an opportunity to ‘spread the word’.  I have practiced this for a long time and always enjoy it.  If we all do this kind of thing, slow but steady, we might make a tiny dent every time that we have this opportunity.

    F.B. 11-17-2010

  • Co-founder and chief scientist of the SETI@home to give next SMAS lecture!

    Dan Werthimer, co-founder and chief scientist of the SETI@home project, will present “IS ANYBODY OUT THERE? The Search for ET with help from Eight Million Volunteers,” on Friday, Oct. 15, at 6 p.m. in the Hager Auditorium at the Museum the Rockies.

    Werthimer will discuss the possibility of life in the universe and the search for radio and optical signals from other civilizations. He will also discuss other citizen science projects, next generation telescopes, instrumentation, and algorithms for SETI, as well as speculate on when earthlings might discover other civilizations.

    Doors open at 5:30 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public.

    Sponsors of the lecture include the Montana State University Physics Department, Museum of the Rockies, Montana ESPCoR and Southwest Montana Astronomical Society.

  • Getting some press

    Stars Over Bozeman got some press coverage today.  Mike Mestas from NBC-KTVM met with Charlie Rose this afternoon and filmed a segment for today’s news.

    KTVM interviewing Charlie Rose for Stars over Bozeman