Amateur Astronomy Under The Big Sky
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  • Stars Over Yellowstone










    Used with permission from the artist: Tyler Nordgren, contact Tyler for information on reprints at: (Tyler was our speaker for July 2013 Stars Over Yellowstone.)


    Dates have been set for the Stars Over Yellowstone 2014 events:
    June 27-28: Speaker Jim Manning, Director Astronomical Society of the Pacific, San Francisco

    July 25-26: Speaker Mike Murray, manager Clark Planetarium, Salt Lake City

    August will be the Montana Star Watch event the 21st-24th


    2013 marked SMAS’s 16th year of going to Yellowstone National Park for public outreach events, which included speakers and night time observing on the Friday and Saturday evenings at Madison Amphitheater, and solar viewing and Sun presentation at Old Faithful on Saturday afternoon.

    Dates for SOY Summer 2013, our 16th year were.

     June 14-15, July 12-13, and August 9-10                                                                  

    Tentative list of speakers:

    June – Jim Manning:

    Friday night, 6/14:  Cosmic Update 2013 – what’s up, what’s new, what’s hot in the big wide universe and our exploration of it.

    Saturday night, 6/15:  Did Mars Start Out like Yellowstone? – a look at our search for life elsewhere, and how Mars may have started out like Yellowstone as a possible source of life.

    July – Tyler Nordgren:

    Friday night, 7/12: Curiosity for Mars – Everywhere we look on Earth we see life (even in the boiling hot pools of Yellowstone); might we find the same on Mars? Four hundred years of wondering about the Red Planet has brought us to the exciting missions roving across Mars today. What will we find now that we are there? And how can what we find there tell us about our own planet back here?

    Saturday night, 7/13: Stars Above, Earth Below – A star filled sky with a Milky Way stretching from horizon to horizon is now as rare a sight as the grizzly bears and geysers that bring visitors to America’s national parks every year. The park service that protects our national parks by day has also protected these amazing sights at night. What can we see when we look up in a pristine starry sky at night? How can we learn about our own planet and distant planets by what we see there? In the national parks the sky begins at your feet.

    August – Van Allen Storm Probes Mission – Space weather Dr. Harlan E. Spence

    Mysteries of the Radiation Belts RevealedLearn how new observations from NASA’s Van Allen Storm Probes mission are answering mysteries of Earth’s radiation belts, as well as revealing incredible new ones.

    Dr. Harlan E. Spence is Director of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) where he also holds a Professorship in the Department of Physics.  His research interests include theoretical and experimental space plasma physics; cosmic rays and radiation belt processes;  heliospheric, planetary magnetospheric, lunar, and auroral physics.  Prior to joining UNH, Spence was a Professor of Astronomy at Boston University and member of the technical staff at The Aerospace Corporation.  Spence is principal investigator on several space experiments, including NASA’s Van Allen Storm Probes mission.



    For 16 years the Southwest Montana Astronomical Society, along with the National Parks Service and the Museum of the Rockies, have hosted a star-party under the dark-skies of Yellowstone National Park.  Astronomy club members come down from Bozeman, as well as other  astronomers from Montana and Idaho, to descend on the Madison campground for a weekend of star-gazing.

    We are always happy to have traveling astronomers to join us for the star party, so bring your scopes.

    Typical weekend:

    Friday Night:

    • Guest speaker at the Madison Amphitheater (approximately 9:00 or 9:30 p.m., check with the park website for exact times).
    • Star-party directly following speaker (approximately 10:00 p.m.) in Madison Amphitheater parking lot.


    • Solar-gazing at Old Faithful by visitor center – 2:00 through 5:00 p.m.

    Saturday Night:

    • Guest speaker at the Madison Amphitheater.
    • Star-party directly following speaker.

    Stars Over Yellowstone – July 2010


    Stars Over Yellowstone – July 2011

























































    Even when it clouds over we still do solar outreach education at Old Faithful.  See us in the bottom left side under the tree.