Southwest Montana Astronomical Society

Amateur Astronomy Under The Big Sky
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  • Stars over Bozeman star parties planned

    Posted on July 16th, 2010 Lynn Powers 2 comments

    The Southwest Montana Astronomical Society (SMAS) is pleased to announce:

    Stars over Bozeman”

    Friday, June 11th , back up date in case of cloud cover June 12th

    Friday, July 16th, back up date  in case of cloud cover July 17th

    Friday, August 13th, back up date in case of cloud cover August 14th

    Setup at 9 pm with viewing by 10:00 pm; with better viewing after 11:00 pm.  These events will be held at the 100 Acre Gallatin Regional Park located on Oak St 1.2 miles west of North 19th Street in Bozeman.

    As a group of amateur astronomers we wish to share our telescopes and knowledge of the night skies to all who wish to attend this free after dark event.  Club telescopes to be used range in size from small traditional 3 inch telescopes to our Pasley Dobsonian which has a 20 inch diameter lens mirror and is close to 8 feet tall, when pointing straight up. This requires the use of a ladder to look into the eyepiece for most people.   We are excited to use the Pasley this summer following a refurbishing project that included having the mirror refinished.

    Bring your own telescope if you wish and members of SMAS will help you to use it.

  • Mini Star Party with the 13″ Gorsky

    Posted on June 27th, 2010 Charlie Rose 1 comment

    Tonight in the park in front of my house here in Harvest Creek, I put on a star party for some teen kids playing in the park at dusk and 5th grade kids up the street having a birthday party sleep over thing. I got Saturn just as it was visible and was able to zoom in pretty good. The air was great with steady viewing. Then moved onto double stars Mizar, and Alberio. As it got dark enough the Ring and Hercules Cluster came into view well.  This is what the teenage kids got to see. At 10:30, on cue, the International Space Station flew right over and the 5th graders all showed up and got good views of Saturn & such.  A great night for a spur of the moment event here on the first really nice evenings of summer. There were 7 teens, 8 Fifth graders and 5 adults. Lots a fun. Gorsky worked great.

  • Bozeman Aurora

    Posted on May 4th, 2010 Lynn Powers No comments

    On today’s web site, a beautiful picture of the Aurora was posted.  What makes it so great is that the picture was taken in Bozeman!  By Dr. Joe Shaw of MSU, our July Stars over Yellowstone speaker.  Nice going Joe.  Check out the website!

    “AURORAS INVADE THE USA: A high-speed solar wind stream hit Earth’s magnetic field on May 2nd, sparking a geomagnetic storm that lasted more than 15 hours. Red auroras spilled across the Canadian border and were spotted in several US states. Joseph Shaw sends this picture from Bozeman, Montana:

    “The red auroras were just visible to the naked eye and easily captured by my Nikon D300,” says Shaw. “Excellent treat!”

  • Friday, April 30th – The Sun and Solar Eclipses with Dr. Jay Pasachoff

    Posted on April 24th, 2010 No comments

    “The Sun and Solar Eclipses”

    Solar eclipses are the most spectacular celestial phenomena in which we on Earth can participate.  Prof. Pasachoff, a veteran of 50 solar eclipses, will describe how the outer part of the sun shines and how his studies at the recent eclipses in Greece, Russia, and China have helped our understanding of our nearest star.

    Jay Pasachoff, Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams College in Massachusetts, is chair of the International Astronomical Union’s Working Group on Eclipses.

    This lecture will be held at the Museum of the Rockies in the Hager Auditorium.  Doors open at 7:00, the lecture will begin at 7:30. Free and open to the public. The winter lecture series is sponsored by SMAS, MSGC, MSU Physics, and Museum of the Rockies.


  • Astronomy Day – Saturday, April 24th

    Posted on March 26th, 2010 2 comments

    Join us for Astronomy Day from 1:00 – 4:00pm at the Museum of the Rockies.
    All events and Museum admission are FREE to the public!


    •        1pm: Opening Remarks
    …Ryan Hannahoe, MSU

    •        1:10pm: Space Travel, Space Research and (yuck) Space Adaption Syndrome
    …Loren Acton, former NASA astronaut

    •        2pm: Listening to the Universe
    …Joey Key, MSU Physics

    •        3pm: Eye on the Big Sky
    …MSU Space Public Outreach Team

    Solar Observing

    (located at the Museum Entrance Plaza)
    weather permitting

    Planetarium Shows

    1pm: Star Signs
    2pm: Lewis & Clark
    3pm: Star Signs

    Kids Activities

    (located within the Redstart Classroom)
    •        Electromagnetic War
    •        Fun with Solar Cookies
    •        Gravity Wave Game
    •        How to Make a Star-Wheel
    •        Science with UV Bead Bracelets


    (located in the main lobby)
    •        Astrobiology Biogeocatalysis Research Center of MSU
    •        Montana Space Grant Consortium
    •        NASA’s Mercury MESSENGER Mission
    •        Solar Physics Research Group of MSU
    •        Southwest Montana Astronomical Society
    •        SPIE Student Chapter of MSU

    Event Sponsors

    Astrobiology Biogeocatalysis Research Center of MSU
    MSU’s Extended University
    Museum of the Rockies
    Solar Physics Research Group of MSU
    Southwest Montana Astronomical Society

  • Fred Birk, Past President of SMAS to speak on VLA

    Posted on March 16th, 2010 Richard Sabo No comments

    Fred Birk, past president of SMAS, will give a talk during the March 26th meeting of SMAS. 7:00 in the Redstart room, downstairs at the Museum of the Rockies.  Fred’s talk will be followed by a short club meeting with updates on Stars over Yellowstone, Stars over Bozeman, and the upcoming Astronomy Day event.  Bring a friend!

    National Radio Astronomy Observatory
    VLA, The Very Large Array in New Mexico
    Guide Post to the Future
    The talk puts the VLA in context with the radio astronomy world of today and the past.  A detailed narrative of a tour of the entire facility including the inner sanctum of electronics processing.  The audience should walk away from the talk with a good understanding of what radio astronomy is all about.
  • Winter Lecture Series: Mike Murray – Clark Planetarium

    Posted on February 20th, 2010 Richard Sabo No comments

    Mike Murray, past member of SMAS and now Programs Manager of the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City, will give the second Winter Lecture at the Museum of the Rockies at 7:00PM, doors open at 6:30, Feb. 26th.   His talk is titled: “Seeing in the Dark: Tales of an Amateur Astronomer.”

    Sponsored by SMAS, MSGC, MOR.

    Amateur astronomy has been one of the fastest growing hobbies in the country for the last 20 years.  Why is that?  What gets people so “hooked” on astronomy and the night sky?

    Actually there could be many reasons.  For some, it’s just a naturally fascinating subject.  Look at how many non-science-major college students enroll in introductory astronomy courses to satisfy their general science requirement.  Or maybe it was a camping experience where you saw the Milky Way or a “shooting star” for the first time.  Or something that happened in the space program, like a moon mission, photos from Mars or a Hubble Space Telescope image.

    The reasons may be different, but the inspiration to explore the sky has one common thread – a curiosity to discover more of nature’s secrets and feel a personal connection to the universe.

    High quality observing equipment is now more widely available, and at affordable prices.  But as Mike will show, you don’t have to own a big telescope and lots of computer gear to do amateur astronomy.

    In this talk, Mike Murray (who worked at the Museum of the Rockies’ Taylor Planetarium in the 1990’s) will recount his moments of both inspiration and challenges as an avid amateur astronomer. From naked eye observing to getting your first telescope, Murray will demonstrate that there’s something for every age and any skill level when it comes to star gazing.  Topics covered will include binocular observing, “star hopping,” astronomy clubs, star parties, choosing your first telescope, observing techniques, how to use star charts, and much more.

    Mark your calendar for this outstanding speaker!!

  • Come back Shane!

    Posted on February 10th, 2010 No comments

    It was great to hear Dr. Shane Larson speak about life out there, and space travel.   Thanks to everyone involved .

  • Free single axis motor drive system

    Posted on February 10th, 2010 No comments

    I have a Orion EQ-2M motor drive that I can’t use on an equatorial mount system.

  • Stars over Yellowstone

    Posted on February 10th, 2010 Todd Brunner 1 comment

    Has there been any dates set yet for Yellowstone 2010 yet.  Just thinking about trying to book  some camping spots.