Southwest Montana Astronomical Society

Amateur Astronomy Under The Big Sky
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  • Winter Lecture Series 2012

    Posted on January 20th, 2012 Lynn Powers No comments

    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. 


  • Event Calendar Issues Resolved

    Posted on December 31st, 2011 Robert Banfill No comments

    The event calendar issues have been resolved and it has been enabled. To place an event on the calendar, simply post with the category set to ‘Events’ and set the times in the ‘Event Editor’ at the bottom of the ‘Add New Post’ screen and publish. That’s all there is to it!

  • Facebook and Twitter Integrations Disabled

    Posted on November 19th, 2011 Robert Banfill No comments

    We have disabled our recently installed Facebook and Twitter integrations on the site for the time being as they seem to cause the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser to have issues loading pages from the site. We will try to address these issues in the future but for now these integrations are disabled.

  • October meeting change

    Posted on October 11th, 2011 Lynn Powers No comments

    Our October meeting is moving to Friday November 4th.   In the Redstart room, downstairs at the Museum of the Rockies starting at 7:00 p.m.

    Our November and December meetings typically combine due to holidays and meets the first Friday of December, so we’ll be meeting on December 2nd.  At the Museum of the Rockies in the Redstart room starting at 7:00 p.m..  The December meeting is also our elections meeting.    We have several openings on our board, many hands make light work, and it’s a great way to get to know other members.

  • International Observe the Moon Night

    Posted on October 3rd, 2011 Lynn Powers No comments

    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

    Posted on August 22nd, 2011 Robert Banfill No comments

    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

    Posted on August 21st, 2011 Robert Banfill No comments

    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

    Posted on August 19th, 2011 Lynn Powers No comments

    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.

  • Follow Us

    Posted on August 17th, 2011 Lynn Powers 1 comment

    You can follow  us on Twitter @1SMAS or like our Facebook Page, search under Southwest Montana Astronomical Society.  We’re trying to follow the new technologies that are emerging in today’s society.  We’ve had our solar observing schedule sent out on twitter as well as posted on FB by NightSkyNetwork and CamillaSDO this past summer.

  • Summer Observing

    Posted on June 8th, 2011 Lynn Powers 3 comments

    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.