Southwest Montana Astronomical Society

Amateur Astronomy Under The Big Sky
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  • March 2013 Winter Lecture

    Posted on March 21st, 2013 Lynn Powers No comments

    NOTE: New night – WEDNESDAY March 27th.  Same place – Museum of the Rockies, Hagar Auditorium. Same time – 7 p.m. Same great price – Free and open to the public.

    Einstein’s Legacy: Studying Gravity in War and Peace

    A popular image persists of Albert Einstein as a loner, someone who avoided the hustle and bustle of everyday life in favor of quiet contemplation. Yet Einstein was deeply engaged with politics throughout his life; indeed, he was so active politically that the FBI kept him under surveillance for decades, compiling a 2000-page secret file on his political activities. His most enduring scientific legacy, the general theory of relativity – physicists’ reigning explanation for gravity and the basis for nearly all our thinking about the cosmos – has likewise been cast as an austere temple standing aloof from the all-too-human dramas of political history. But was it so? In this talk, David Kaiser – Germeshausen Professor and Department Head of MIT’s Program in Science, Technology, and Society -examines ways in which research on general relativity was embedded in, and at times engulfed by, the tumult of world politics over the course of the twentieth century. Kaiser’s books include Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics (2005), and How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival (2011). A Fellow of the American Physical Society and recipient of the Pfizer Prize from the History of Science Society for best book in the field, Kaiser has also received MIT’s highest awards for excellence in teaching. His work has been featured in Science, Nature, Scientific American, the London Review of Books, and the Huffington Post, as well as on NOVA television programs, NPR, and the BBC.

  • Comet Panstarrs

    Posted on March 20th, 2013 Lynn Powers No comments

    A few of our club members have taken pictures of comet Panstarrs. We will add more as we get them. This first one was taken with a 200 mm lens on March 10th from Bozeman.

    This next one was taken from the Cottonwood Observatory,  3/16/13.  Let us know if you’d like us to post your pictures, too.



  • Celebrating Einstein

    Posted on March 7th, 2013 Lynn Powers No comments

    Celebrating Einstein is a multidisciplinary outreach event centered around communicating the beauty and significance of Einstein’s theory to the general public; this event will be one of the first in the nation to celebrate the centennial anniversary of general relativity. Celebrating Einstein will culminate in events the first week of April of 2013 in Bozeman, Montana. All events are free and open to the public with seating available on a first come, first served basis.

    For a list of events visit:

  • New speaker added for Celebrating Einstein lecture series

    Posted on February 21st, 2013 Lynn Powers No comments

    Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World

    A talk by Lisa Randall, Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University

    Friday, March 1st, 7:30pm, Crawford Theatre, Emerson Cultural Center, this event is free and open to the public.

    The bestselling author of Warped Passages, one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World,” and one of Esquire’s “75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century,” Lisa Randall gives us an exhilarating overview of the latest ideas in physics and offers a rousing defense of the role of science in our lives. Featuring fascinating insights into our scientific future born from the author’s provocative conversations with Nate Silver, David Chang, and Scott Derrickson,Knocking on Heaven’s Door is eminently readable, one of the most important popular science books of this or any year. It is a necessary volume for all who admire the work of Stephen Hawking, Michio Kaku, Brian Greene, Simon Singh, and Carl Sagan; for anyone curious about the workings and aims of the Large Hadron Collider, the biggest and most expensive machine ever built by mankind; for those who firmly believe in the importance of science and rational thought; and for anyone interested in how the Universe began…and how it might ultimately end.


    Lisa is a leading expert on particle physics and cosmology, and in particular, the possible role of extra dimensions of space.
    She was the first tenured woman in the Princeton University physics department and the first tenured female theoretical physicist at both MIT and Harvard University. Lisa is the author of two best selling books, ” Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions” and “Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World”. Both books have received stellar reviews, including the following review by President Clinton “Lisa Randall has written Knocking on Heaven’s Door in the same witty, informal style with which she explains physics in person, making complex ideas fascinating and easy to understand. Her book . . . just might make you think differently—and encourage you to make smarter decisions about the world.”


    For more info on MSU’s Celebrating Einstein, visit:

  • Celebrating Einstein

    Posted on February 20th, 2013 Lynn Powers No comments

    The Southwest Montana Astronomical Society presents Celebrating Einstein for the 2013 Winter Lecture Series.  

    NEW lecture added:  Friday March 1st at the Emerson starting at 7:00 p.m.  NOTE DIFFERENT LOCATION FROM USUAL

    Join us this Friday February 22nd at the Museum of the Rockies starting  at 7:00 p.m.

    A Shout through Space and Time: Einstein’s Legacy Join MSU Assistant Professor Nico Yunes as he describes Einstein’s gravitational waves and how they encode the secrets of black holes – as well as, neutron stars and our current efforts to detect them and verify Einstein’s last untested prediction. Yunes is one of the newest members of he MSU physics department and was an Einstein Fellow at MIT before coming to Montana.

    This event is open to the public and free.


    For more info on MSU’s Celebrating Einstein, visit:

  • February 2013 Winter Lecture Series

    Posted on February 19th, 2013 Lynn Powers No comments

    A Shout through Space and Time: Einstein’s Legacy 
    Friday, February 22, 7pm Hager Auditorium

    In 1905 and then again in 1915, a young office clerk put forth several revolutionary ideas that would soon shake the foundations of physics.  Albert Einstein elevated these ideas to physical theories and all of his predictions have come to pass, except one: gravitational waves. These waves are produced in the most violent and energetic events in the Universe, such as when black holes and neutron stars collide, but they have so-far evaded direct detection due to their inherent feebleness. Join MSU Assistant Professor Nico Yunes as he describes Einstein’s gravitational waves and how they encode the secrets of black holes – as well as, neutron stars and our current efforts to detect them and verify Einstein’s last untested prediction. Yunes is one of the newest members of he MSU physics department and was an Einstein Fellow at MIT before coming to Montana.

  • Help name Pluto’s new Moons

    Posted on February 16th, 2013 Lynn Powers No comments

    From SETI:   Help Us Name the Moons of Pluto!

    Images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2011 and 2012 revealed two previously unknown moons of Pluto. So far, we have been calling them “P4” and “P5”, but the time has come to give them permanent names. If it were up to you, what would you choose?  By tradition, the names of Pluto’s moons come from Greek and Roman mythology, and are related to the ancient tales about Hades and the Underworld.   Alternatively, if you have a great idea for a name that we have overlooked, let us know by filling out the write in form. If you can make a good case for it, we will add it to the list. SETI  will take your votes and suggestions into consideration when we propose the names for P4 and P5 to the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Voting ends at noon EST on Monday, February 25th, 2013.
    Visit their website for more information:
  • Science Fun Night

    Posted on February 14th, 2013 Lynn Powers No comments

    The Stars Still Talk to Us…
    Next Tuesday, I will attempt to share some fun of the astronomical sky-connections of the Big Horn Medicine Wheel with families at the public library.  Please come! and share this with your friends.  –Ivy

    Family Science Night: Star Wheels  at the Bozeman Public Library on February 19,2013  6:30- 7:30 pm

    Free and open to the public

    In this family science workshop, we will create our own astronomical medicine wheels, patterned after the Big Horn Medicine Wheel that resides at nearly 10,000 ft elevation in the Big Horn Mountains just south of the Montana border.  The Big Horn Medicine Wheel, whose glowing white rocks under starlight and moonlight,  are able to convey the actions of celestial objects throughout vast expanses of time and space.  We will create smaller wheels that can be useful in connecting our own home to the Sun, stars and planets, bringing increased delight and meaning to our evening skywatching. Family members may make individual wheels or work on one together. All ages welcome.

  • Final push for Building Bigger Skies

    Posted on January 27th, 2013 Lynn Powers No comments

    The planetarium remodel is almost complete. The final push for raising the last $60,000 of the $1.5 million will take place this coming week with the help of a telethon on KBZK.  During the local 10 p.m. news, members of SMAS, MSGC, MoR, and MSU will man the phones.  When the Taylor Planetarium reopens on March 2, 2013 it will be one of the first planetariums in the US to have an Evans and Sutherland Digistar Five digital planetarium projector. It is the only public planetarium in the state of Montana and in a 400 mile radius.  We are lucky to have such a great facility in our backyard.  Please support the telethon!

  • 2013 Winter Lecture Series

    Posted on January 20th, 2013 Lynn Powers No comments

    The 2013 Winter Lecture series kicks  off on Friday January 25, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. in the Hagar Auditorium, Museum of the Rockies.  Short SMAS club meeting to follow.

    FROM THE BIG BANG TO GALLATIN VALLEY: The Cosmic biography of atoms
    Shane L. Larson
    Department of Physics, Utah State University

    Everything we see around us is composed of the same fundamental building blocks — the 92 naturally occurring chemical elements.  The most abundant element in the Cosmos is hydrogen, most of which was synthesized in the Big Bang.  But where did all the atoms we see around us come from?  How did the original hydrogen in the Universe evolve and mutate into carbon and calcium and iron and gold and all the other elements that we can easily find by breaking open rocks and other common Earthly objects?  The answer is intimately tied to the lives of the stars. They are born out of loose nebular gas and dust, burn their hydrogen fuel into heavier more complex elements, and ultimately explode in one of the most devastating cosmic events known — a supernova — dispersing the elements out into the Cosmos.

    In this talk, we’ll consider the biography of an atom, from the Big Bang to the Gallatin Valley, and explore how the evolution and changes of a single atom can be traced and followed in the lives and deaths of stars.  We can trace the lives of the stars through what can easily be seen with small telescopes and binoculars, and will navigate our way through the night sky to visit nebulae, star clusters, binary stars, and supernova remnants to tell our tale.