Amateur Astronomy Under The Big Sky
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  • Mini Star Party with the 13″ Gorsky

    Tonight in the park in front of my house here in Harvest Creek, I put on a star party for some teen kids playing in the park at dusk and 5th grade kids up the street having a birthday party sleep over thing. I got Saturn just as it was visible and was able to zoom in pretty good. The air was great with steady viewing. Then moved onto double stars Mizar, and Alberio. As it got dark enough the Ring and Hercules Cluster came into view well.  This is what the teenage kids got to see. At 10:30, on cue, the International Space Station flew right over and the 5th graders all showed up and got good views of Saturn & such.  A great night for a spur of the moment event here on the first really nice evenings of summer. There were 7 teens, 8 Fifth graders and 5 adults. Lots a fun. Gorsky worked great.

  • Bozeman Aurora

    On today’s web site, a beautiful picture of the Aurora was posted.  What makes it so great is that the picture was taken in Bozeman!  By Dr. Joe Shaw of MSU, our July Stars over Yellowstone speaker.  Nice going Joe.  Check out the website!

    “AURORAS INVADE THE USA: A high-speed solar wind stream hit Earth’s magnetic field on May 2nd, sparking a geomagnetic storm that lasted more than 15 hours. Red auroras spilled across the Canadian border and were spotted in several US states. Joseph Shaw sends this picture from Bozeman, Montana:

    “The red auroras were just visible to the naked eye and easily captured by my Nikon D300,” says Shaw. “Excellent treat!”

  • Come back Shane!

    It was great to hear Dr. Shane Larson speak about life out there, and space travel.   Thanks to everyone involved .

  • Free single axis motor drive system

    I have a Orion EQ-2M motor drive that I can’t use on an equatorial mount system.

  • Stars over Yellowstone

    Has there been any dates set yet for Yellowstone 2010 yet.  Just thinking about trying to book  some camping spots.


  • APOD of Interest

    Take a look a this Astronomy Picture of the Day from the 20th. It is a tour of the known Universe and as the camera moves away from the Earth, it shows the limit of all radio transmissions from humans.  I found this to be very interesting and pertinent to Dr. Larson’s lecture last night.

  • Quantum leap in our website

    This is a quantum leap in the functionality of our web site.

  • SMAS – HISTORY from old MSU site.

    Southwest Montana Astronomical Society 2007-2009

    Copyright © 2007-2009 SMAS – All rights reserved.

    2009 Stars Over Yellowstone Dates Announced

    The dates for the Stars Over Yellowstone star parties are June 19-21, July 24-26, and Aug 21-23 at Madison Campground Amphitheater. Park entrance passes and tent camping sites at Madison campground are reserved and available free for the first five cars of volunteers. Astronomy talk will take place in the amphitheater at sundown followed by telescope viewing in the meadow below. This is the 11th annual SOY event! Originally created by James Manning (now Executive Director of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific) and Mike Murray (now Director of the Clark Planetarium in Salt lake City)

    You need not be a SMAS club member to join us for this event!  We enjoy sharing the nights skies of Yellowstone with all star-grazed enthusiasts!

     2009 SMAS Winter Lecture Series Announced

    Astronomy experts will provide the latest information and research on the universe. Sponsored by the Southwest Montana Astronomical Society, the Montana Space Grant Consortium, Museum of the Rockies. All lectures are at 7:30 pm in the Hager Auditorium at the  Museum of the Rockies and are free to the public.

    January – Stacy Palen, Assistant Professor at Weber State University, will present News From The Very Latest In Very Large Arrays; on Friday, January 30.

    Feburary – Neil Cornish, Associate Professor at Montana State University, will present Gravitational Waves: A New Way Of Seeing The Universe on Friday, February 20.

    March – Rob Landis, Mission Operations Directorate at NASA Johnson Space Center, will presentBetween The Moon And Mars on Friday, March 6.</p>

    2008-04-25  Your Telescope and You – An Introduction

    SMAS will host a observing session at the  Museum of the Rockies  on April 25 beginning at 7:30 PM for club members and the general public. So bring our telescope/binocular/eyeballs and let SMAS members help you to learn how use them. If you don’t have an instrument of your own, there will be a wide variety of club and member instruments available along with knowledgeable and gentle guidance to help you have a memorable observing experience. Come one, come all, and even if the weather doesn’t cooperate, there will be plenty of activities indoors.

    The Sun will set at 8:23 and astronomical twilight occurs at 10:20. We have prepared all sky charts in PDF for this time to aid in planning your session.

    2008-03-11 Anatomy of a Revolution: How Galileo Democratized the Sky

    Jim Manning, Executive Director of The Astronomical Society of the Pacific, will present the third and final lecture in our 2008 winter lecture series Anatomy of a Revolution: How Galileo Democratized the Sky on Friday March 27 in the Hager Auditorium at the Museum of the Rockies. The presentation will begin at 7:00 PM and is open to the public.

    2008-02-22 The Search for Earth: NASA’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory

    Our winter lecture series continues with Dr. John Armstrong’s presentation of The Search for Earth:NASA’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory&quot; on Friday, February 29 in the Hager Auditorium at the Museum of the Rockies. The presentation will begin at 7:00 PM and is free to the public. The lecture is sponsored by SMAS and the Montana Space Grant Consortium.

    2008-02-22  Hundreds Turnout to Observe Lunar Eclipse

    Hundreds of people turned out on Wednesday to observe a spectacular total lunar eclipse at the Museum of the Rockies. Despite thin clouds partially obscuring Luna early in the penumbrae phase, beautiful views through a wide variety instruments were had by all. In addition to the eclipse, many observed Saturn and its moons which were in close proximity to Luna as well as other favorites such as the Great Nebula in Orion which was high in the South.

    Duncan and Robert Banfill piggybacked their DSLR onto their 10 LXD75 Schmitt-Newtonian and captured this time-lapse sequence  of most of the eclipse. The frame interval is three minutes so you get to see most of the eclipse in about 28 seconds.

    <Thanks to everyone who came out and to the Museum of the Rockies for hosting this event. A very special thanks goes out to all the SMAS members and the museum staff who helped out with this event.

    2008-02-16  Total Lunar Eclipse

    Join the Museum of the Rockiesand SMAS as we observe the total lunar eclipse that will occur on February 20. It all happens at the Museum of the Rockies Redstart Classroom at 6:00 PM.

    2008-02-01 SMAS Site Back on the Air

    After a fairly long break, we have the site updated with the election.  We have a new President, Dr. Richard Sabo, who has been our Vice President and Observing Chair for the past few years.  Dick replaces Fred Birk who is assuming the role of Editor of the .  David Binnewies is our new Vice President replacing Dick.  David has been a Member-at-Large and very active in the club for many years. Congratulations to all new officers, members-at-large, and activity heads.

    We hope to have the Star Wrangler available online soon and we are looking for content from our members. If you have content to contribute the newsletter or the site, and we know that you do, please contact  Fred and get involved.

    In the near future we also plan to have an RSS feed for current club activities and events up and running along with the Star Wrangler. Please check here at the site often and please get involved in these efforts.

    2007-05-21 Measuring the Universe Study Group

    The ongoing lecture series and study group, &quot;Measuring the Universe, is being conducted by our club President Fred Birk. Part I – The Solar System, is currently underway with three sessions completed so far and three more planned. Part II and Part III are planned for later in 2007 and for the better part of 2008. The coverage will be Our Milky Way Galaxy and the Local Group  (Part II) and finally Sizing up the whole Universe(Part III).

    2007-05-19 Club Membership Dues Reduced 

    The club has reduced its annual dues from $25.00 to $20.00 per year for single memberships and from $30.00 to $25.00 per year for family memberships.  If you’re not a member, now would be a great time to join.

    2007-05-11 Weather cuts short the Mini-Messier Marathon

    Despite clouds, winds, and the threat of rain, a good number of members turned out for the Mini-Messier Marathon at Dick Sabo’s house on the 11th. Our Vice President and his wife put on an very nice event even though the weather cut things short at about 1:00 AM. A good time was had by all and many delicious brownies were consumed along with copious amounts of hot coffee. Thanks to Dick and his wife for hosting this event at their wonderful home and thanks to everyone you turned out in spite of the weather.<

    Better luck, and hopefully better skies, next time…

    2007-04-21 Astro Fair on Astronomy Day

    The Southwest Montana Astronomical Society’s 12th annual Astro Fair on Astronomy Day was held on Saturday, April 21, at the Museum of the Rockies. Special thanks goes out to everyone who helped to make this event such a great success. Here is a quick summary and a few photos of the event.

    2007-03-31 The Pace to Space

    The final lecture of our winter lecture series, Dr. John Bacon’s The Pace to Space: Where We’re Going in Space, and How Fast We’re Getting There; was held on Friday, March 30, in the Hager Auditorium at the Museum of the Rockies to a nearly full house. Many thanks to everyone who turned out for the lecture, to David Binnewies, Manager of the Taylor Planetarium at MoR and SMAS board Member at Large, on whose initiative we were able to have such a prominent speaker here in Bozeman, to SMAS members Brigitte and Doug Flecter for hosting the after-lecture social and to everyone else who helped to make this event happen.

    And a very special thanks to Dr. Bacon for coming and sharing his knowledge and vision with us.

    2007-03-29 Call for member talks

    This year’s calendar includes several Club member talks during our regular meetings.  These are intended to provide an opportunity for us to get to know each other’s interests and astronomy-related activities.  They also can be used a catalyst to do some research on a topic of interest and put the information into order so that it can be shared with fellow enthusiasts.  Here are a few topics to tease your interest: (all of these were mentioned in the SMAS survey)

    Supernova as standard candles, Basic Astrophotography, Building a telescope, Status of extra solar planetary science, Solar research, Double stars, Variable stars, Star clusters, Quasars and black holes, DSLR astrophotography, Star histories of primitive peoples.>

    Available dates are June 29, August 31 and November 30.  Please contact Dick  soon if you are interested in participating.

    2007-03-13  Mini-Messier Marathon announced

    Our Vice President and Observing Chair, Dick Sabo, has scheduled a Mini-Messier Marathon for SMAS members at his house west of four corners on Friday, 2007-05-11. An exciting time is sure to be had by all so be sure to mark your calendar and get all of the details.

    We also received a really nice card from the good folks at the Irving School thanking the club for our involvement in their Cosmic Carnival last month. Be sure to take a look…

    2007-03-11  Web site work continues…

    Work continues on the new site which is now online at  The old site will continue to be available through the ‘Old Website’ link .

    Over the last few weeks we have taken some time to firm up the site markup and style sheet with fairly exhaustive testing across a broad range of user agents including Firefox 2.0, Safari 2.0.4, Opera 9.1, Netscape 8.1, Internet Explorer 6.0 and 7.0, and Lynx. This testing along with  validation helps to insure that everyone can access our site regardless of their platform or browser. We have also addressed many accessibility issues in the markup and have used  Cynthia Says  to validate   compliance which will help to insure that people with disabilities will also be able to access our site.

    As always, please  let us know  if you find anything not working as excepted on the site.

     2007-02-24   Irving School Cosmic Carnival a great success 

    Thanks to everyone who helped to make SMAS’s involvement in the Irving Elementary School &quot;Cosmic Carnival – The Universe&quot; a great success. The kids and their parents came out in force to take a look at the Moon and Saturn. A special thanks to David Binniwies hosted an inflatable planetarium indoors, along with Fred Birk, Dick Sabo, and Lynn Powers who, in addition to Duncan and I, staffed the telescopes outside.