Amateur Astronomy Under The Big Sky
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  • 2014 Montana Starwatch

    Tent area from 2013

    August is here already!  Montana Starwatch is coming up later this month.   It starts on Thursday the 21st and runs for 3 dark sky nights.  Throw in a speaker or two, Barbecue, catching up with friends and making new friends.

    Be sure to visit the website for more information, including schedule, directions and registration:


    UPDATE: Skies were cloudy and even a bit of snow on Saturday night.  However, the talk was great and entertaining, much was learned – thanks Robert Howell.   Many thanks to all of those that came. It was so much fun catching up with everyone. With the inclement weather we stayed inside and shared ideas and tools of the trade.   The food and the hospitality was fabulous!  Thanks to Russ, Gwen and Joe for all the prep work to make this another successful event.

  • Sweet Pea – Stomp Rockets

    We had a long line at the Bozeman Sweet Pea festival making stomp rockets. We’ll be there again tomorrow, Sunday August 3, 2014.  Come by and make your own rocket.  

    Update:   We had around 350 stomp rockets made on Saturday and 200 made on Sunday – with multiple launches for each rocket.  Lots of help, thanks to everyone who came to help and those who came to make rockets.  Very fun event!

  • International SUN-day June 22nd

    Join SMAS on June 22nd at the Bozeman Public Library on Main Street from 3-5 for the first International SUN-day event!  Come celebrate the Sun with activities, education, speakers and safe solar observing.

    TALK:  The Dynamic Sun
    Speaker: Dr. Mark Weber, Astrophysicist (Harvard-Smithsonian Center forAstrophysics)

    As children, we learn to think of the Sun as a yellow ball. As students, we’re taught that the face of the Sun is occasionally blemished by sunspots. As adults, we hear about solar storms that can affect us here on Earth. But the Sun is even more varied and dynamic and mysterious and beautiful than you probably imagine. Let’s look at this incredible star with observations from some of the most advanced telescopes. We’ll explore the Sun as a dynamic system, touching upon what scientists have learned and what they are only beginning to understand.

  • May SMAS meeting

    NOTE: New time, one hour earlier.  Our May SMAS club meeting will take place on Friday May 30th, 6:00 pm in the Redstart room, downstairs at the Museum of the Rockies.

    With nice weather, it’s time to take out your telescope and start using it.  We will learn how to collimate a Newtonian dob type and a Schmidt Cassegrain type of telescope.  Having a properly collimated telescope enhances your viewing.  We will have club members demonstrate how to collimate a telescope and what tools to use.   Take out the eye piece  from your telescope and look into your telescope, see diagram to the left… hopefully it doesn’t look like view A or B above.  If it does, don’t worry, that is what we’ll help you to fix. A properly collimated telescope should look like view C.   Bring your telescope and you can work along side as you listen to our members show you how to get the best out of your telescope.  We will be inside as we do this class.  Weather permitting we may go and try out our properly aligned telescopes.  Come prepared in case we do.  Class from 6-8, sun set at 9:05 pm.

  • TEDx 2014

    As promised, TEDx info for Shane and Michelle Larson. Shane gave a presentation at Northwestern on Pluto and Michelle was in Bozeman and talked about verbs, aka action words. Also a link to Shane’s blog.
    Shane TEDx:
    Shane blog:
    Michelle’s TEDx:

  • As seen on TV

    There has been several great astronomical events recently, and Mike Heard at KBZK helped to get the word out.  A short clip for Astronomy Day was shown the first week of April, followed by a live appearance for the eclipse on the KBZK studio patio.  Jacob Kushner had first light on the Hiscock Telescope on April 14th live on TV as we were waiting on the eclipse.  Jacob has been building the scope from the MSGC grant with the help of several high school students and some members of SMAS.

  • Save the dates

    There are some events that are coming up that we wanted to let you know about.

    April 5 – Astronomy Day at the Museum of the Rockies 12-4pm

    April 14-15 – Total Lunar Eclipse – no local event planned, but be sure to get out and observe.

    April 25 – Next SMAS meeting at the Museum of the Rockies, 7pm

    June 22 – the First International  SUN-day, at the Bozeman Public  Library 3-5pm

    June 27-28 – Stars Over Yellowstone June weekend at Madison Amphitheater, with Jim Manning

    July 25-26 – Stars Over Yellowstone July weekend at Madison Amphitheater, with Mike Murray

    August 21-24 – Montana Starwatch: go to for more information

  • SMAS Outreach to rural schools and beyond

    Joe Witherspoon is the new SMAS Vice President this year, he is also the committee head for SMAS Outreach.  This past week, March 24-28th, Joe worked with the Sheridan Montana public school and conducted a week of activities.  Solar observing and dark sky observing, walking out The Earth is a Peppercorn to show size and distance, plus many more fun activities to engage the young students.

    In June, Joe will work with a group of 11-13 year olds from over seas who are visiting the Big Sky country.  He said they will make planispheres, watch a green laser constellation tour, then view stars in a dark sky setting.  Most of these students live in a large city and have not seen a dark sky.

    Lynn Powers is working with the Arrowhead K-8 school in the Paradise Valley.  For the April total lunar eclipse, students there wanted to mark the occasion with a science night. The event will showcase the science fair, guest speakers, activities and viewing the eclipse.  Students from the Bozeman High School Astronomy club will be judges for the science fair and help with the telescopes

  • 2014 Astronomy Day: April 5th


    Astronomy Day at the Museum of the Rockies. View the flyer for more information  astronomydayflyer  or see the post below.

  • March Winter Lecture Series

    Join us on March 28, 2014 at 7:00 p.m., Hagar Auditorium at the Museum of the Rockies to hear Dr. Sarah Jaeggli from MSU, Solar Physics Postdoctoral Researcher, her talk will be an IRIS mission update.

    The Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) is a new mission to look at the Sun which was launched June 27, 2013.  IRIS was designed to look at a very mysterious region above the Sun’s visible surface where the very hot gas of the corona (1 million degrees Celsius) meets the very cool gas of the chromosphere (5000 degrees Celsius).  The mystery lies in how the Sun maintains the chromosphere at such a cool temperature while transferring energy through it into the hot corona.  The MSU solar physics group is part of the international team responsible for building  the instrument, operating it, and analyzing the images it sends back to Earth.  In this lecture she’ll give an update on the IRIS mission and talk  about the new science that is being done at MSU.