Amateur Astronomy Under The Big Sky
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  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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. 


  • 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.

  • Stars Over Yellowstone 2012

    The dates are set for our 15th year of Stars Over Yellowstone Summer 2012.

    Put these dates on your calendar and come join us for the fun.

    June 22 & 23 – speaker: Jim Manning
    July 20 & 21 – speakers: Michelle and Shane Larson
    Aug. 17 & 18 – speaker: SPOT program from MSU

    Be sure and check the details on our Stars Over Yellowstone page.

    Enjoy a few pictures from our July 2011 event, more pictures are posted on our Stars Over Yellowstone page.


  • Total Solar Eclipse

    As of 11:34 this morning, 21 August 2011, it is just six short years until we experience a total solar eclipse right here in our neighborhood. As this will be a once in a lifetime experience, it’s never too early to start planning…

  • 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.

  • Summer Observing

    Dates have been set for some summer time observing.

    Stars over Bozeman – Friday July 8th and Friday August 5th.  Set up scopes around 9:00, observing when it gets dark.  We’ll be at the Hundred Acre Park off of Oak Street again this year.

    Solar Sidewalk Observing – We’ll be at the Lunch on the Lawn at the Emerson on Wednesdays 11:30-1:30 starting on July 6th. (July 13, July 20, July 27, Aug. 3, Aug. 10 and Aug. 17)

    Solar Sidewalk Observing at Sweet Pea.

    Plan on coming and join us this summer for some observing.

  • Telescope Class

    Do you own a telescope that has turned into an expensive coat rack?  Did you lose your instructions and forgot how to set it up?  Well dust off that scope and bring it over to the Museum of the Rockies (come even if you don’t own a telescope but intend to purchase one) on Saturday May 28th between 1:00 and 3:00 and meet some of the SMAS telescope experts.  We can help you get it set up, show you how to align it and collimate it if necessary.  Then we’ll show you how to use it to find some objects in the night sky.  Free with admission to the Museum of the Rockies.