Amateur Astronomy Under The Big Sky
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  • Resources

    Here we present a collection of tools and resources that we have found useful. Please let us know if you have something to add or if you find anything not working as expected.


    • Stellarium – A wonderful multi-platform, open-source planetarium package.
    • Cartes du Ciel/Sky Charts – An open-source planetarium/charting package.
    • Celestia – The multi-platform space simulator that lets you explore our universe in three dimensions.
    • Virtual Moon Atlas – A Lunar charting package that interoperates with Carte du Ciel.
    • The Full Moon – Another Atlas that lets you get close up and personal with the Moon.
    • Did you know that your Google Earth program has a tab for a sky view, and the Moon and Mars?  Click on the planet on the top tab, a drop down box will give you your options.

    On-line Applications and Sites

    • U.S. Naval Observatory Astronomical Applications – Rise and set times, lunar phases and much more.
    • Heavens Above – Iridium Flares, comets, planetary data, charts and much more.
    • Google Sky – Google maps for the sky. DSS, infrared, microwave, historical images along with Google Moon and Google Mars.
    • NASA’s Eclipse site – All things eclipses, planetary transits across the sun, and other solar system information.
    • NASA Timeline of the history of the agency. Suggested by Adam, a student in CA who found the SMAS resource page during his research and thought this would be a great addition to our page. Thanks Adam!
    • – All things comets.
    • StarDate Online – A wealth of information and StarDate Magazine from the good folks at The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory.
    • Jupiter’s Moons Information – Find out the positions of Jupiter’s 4 Galilean moons currently or at any time in the future, a great web page at the Sky & Telescope web site.
    • Lunar Eclipses for Beginners –  What is a lunar eclipse and why do the happen, learn about that and more.
    • Locate Lunar Eclipses – Information about where and when to view lunar eclipses
    • Solar Eclipses for Beginners – Learn about solar eclipses.
    • Moon base map – a printable map of features on the moon.
    • Interactive ISS – for the 16th anniversary (2016) an interactive site with info on the ISS (see the Heavens-Above website above to track the ISS and go out to observe it going overhead. )
    • Backyard Astronomy Basics – Suggested by Quentin, a boy scout making his way through his Astronomy Badge work who found the SMAS resource page helpful, but knew that we needed to add this site, too.  Thanks Quentin!
    • Online Ultimate Beginners Guide to Astronomy. Filled with info on observing, telescopes and photography.
    • Computer games for kids: Another site suggested by a student, Trevor, who found our other links helpful and thought we needed to add this site. Most need flash, so update then go play and learn! Thanks Trevor!

    Clear Sky Clock

    Special thanks to Attilla Danko of for our clear sky clock.

    The SMAS clear sky clock. SMAS Clear Sky Clock

    Other Clear Sky Clocks in Montana.

    Current Lunar Phase

     Citizen Science

     SOLAR Links:

    Solar Missions: list of past, current and future missions to study the sun

    Solar Missions: List of all NASA solar missions

    Space Weather : Basic information on space weather, auroras and more

    Space Weather Live: More in depth data pertaining to the sun

    Solar Ham : Information from above sites and more

    Ovation Aurora predictions

    The Sun Today: Lots of info and education regarding the sun and missions

    Solar Monitor: Current and past data and pictures of the sun

    Sunspots: Current data on sunspots

    Helioviewer:  Current solar data/images.  Change the parameters (space scopes and wavelength) to make movies and look back at past events

    SOHO website: Info and data from the SOHO mission

    SDO website: info and data from the Solar Dynamic Observatory

    STEREO website: info and data from the STEREO Mission

    IRIS mission: Ties to MSU

    MMS Mission: Ties to MSU

    FIREBIRD Mission: Ties to MSU

    MT Aurora Detection Network : From Dr. Joe Shaw at MSU

    Aurorasaurus: – info on auroras and educational information on what causes the aurora

    ACE website: info and data from the Advanced Composition Explorer

    Heliophysics: resources on missions and education

    Heliophysics educational resources


    Eclipse information:

    All eclipse dates: From NASA, lunar and solar through the year 2100.  It’s never too early to start planning your next trip!

    Citizen CATE Experiment: Several club members manned sites and contributed to the data collected from the 8/21/17 TSE, see the movie here.

    NASA Eclipse 2017

    Interactive map

    GLOBE Observer App

    GLOBE Cloud training

    Globe at Night – 2017 Eclipse info and pdf






    SMAS members list of favorites objects to find in the night sky: 

    Planets – depending on the season and which are up.


    M57 – Ring Nebula


    Double cluster

    M51 – Whirlpool Galaxy

    M27 – dumbell