Amateur Astronomy Under The Big Sky
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  • Stars Over Yellowstone – July `09

    Posted on July 26th, 2009 Robert Banfill No comments

    The kids and I headed down to Madison on Friday afternoon leaving a sweltering Bozeman behind us. As they always are this time of year, things were pretty busy in the park but the weather was beautiful and things were relatively quiet at the Madison campground. After hooking up with Dr. Stacy Palin, Dr. John Anderson and Dr. Shane Larson and family as well as other club members and having a nice dinner followed up with s’mores around the campfire, we all headed over to the amphitheater to get setup.

    Dr. Palin presented her lecture The Lives of Stars to a large audience while SMAS members got the telescopes setup below on the meadow. After the lecture it was fairly crowded but it looked as though everyone got to put their eye to the eyepiece on several telescopes and see the many wonders of a very dark sky. A few of the favorite objects viewed were M13, the Hercules Cluster, M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy, and of course, Jupiter and its Galilean moons as they rose in the southeast.

    As things quieted down, we toured Sagittarius and Scorpius on the big telescopes hitting many  of the wonderful emission nebulae in those constellations that we only get to see this time of year. As the night worn on, Dr. Larson and SMAS president Dr. Richard Sabo took a group of us on a wonderful tour of lesser known but spectacular objects such as NGC 5907, the Splinter Galaxy, NGC 6543, the Cats Eye Nebula, and the Veil Nebula supernova remnant.

    The weather did not cooperate much on Saturday. The solar observing session at Old Faithful was pretty much clouded and rained out, although Lynn Powers stuck it out and provided handouts and deployed the solar system scale model. In the evening, the skies began to clear and Dr. Palin presented Astrostories: Constellation Stories from the Ancients to a large audience at the amphitheater but high thin clouds preventing any observing.

    All in all, a good time was had by all over the weekend. Special thanks to Dr. Palin for her presentations and to all of the SMAS members who came and helped out. I also want the thank the National Park Service for letting us come and enjoy the dark skies of Yellowstone and share our love of astronomy with others.

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