Southwest Montana Astronomical Society

Amateur Astronomy Under The Big Sky
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  • 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.


  • APOD of Interest

    Posted on January 30th, 2010 Robert Banfill 2 comments

    Take a look a this Astronomy Picture of the Day from the 20th. It is a tour of the known Universe and as the camera moves away from the Earth, it shows the limit of all radio transmissions from humans.  I found this to be very interesting and pertinent to Dr. Larson’s lecture last night.

  • Thank you Dr. Larson…

    Posted on January 30th, 2010 Robert Banfill No comments

    The SMAS Winter Lecture Series is always a hit and last nights lecture, Connections to the Cosmos: The Search for Life Beyond Earth presented by Dr. Shane Larson of Utah State University, was no exception.

    The question whether there are others like us or are we alone in the Universe has been asked since there has been someone to ask it.   Dr. Larson’s deep insights into this question, and the questions that it leads to, helped me to make some sense of these profound and fundamental issues.

    This was a wonderful presentation and I was very glad to see a large turnout at the Hager Auditorium at the Museum of the Rockies for the event.  A big thank you to Dr. Larson for coming up here on short notice and presenting this lecture and thank you to the Museum of the Rockies and the Montana Space Grant Consortium for their support of the Winter Lecture Series.   Thanks also to SMAS and it membership for making this all happen.

    I am really looking forward to next month and the next lecture in the series when Mike Murray, Programs Manager of the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City, will present Seeing in the Dark: Tales of an Amateur Astronomer.

  • Winter Lecture Series: Shane Larson of Utah State Univ.

    Posted on January 11th, 2010 1 comment

    Dr. Shane Larson of Utah State University will deliver a lecture discussing ‘CONNECTIONS TO THE COSMOS: The Search for Life Beyond Earth’. This event will be held in the Hagar Auditorium of the Museum of the Rockies on the evening of Friday, January 29th. Shane’s lecture will begin promptly at 7PM, and this presentation is free and open to the public.

    Presentation abstract:

    One of the most profound questions for modern scientists is whether or not Earth is unique in all the Cosmos.  Are there other worlds that may bear matter organized into patterns we call “life”?  Will such worlds be similar to our own or extraordinarily different?  In modern astronomy there are two distinct avenues of inquiry into this question: first, do other Earth-like worlds exist, and how might we detect them, and second, if there is life on other worlds what might it be like and how might we communicate with it?

    In this talk we will examine these questions.  Our conversation will range from how we are looking for other worlds that might harbor life, to imagining what strange forms that life might take on, and lastly exploring the scientific principles that would be employed to enable a conversation with other intelligent entities in the Cosmos, our neighbors on another world.

    Funding for the Winter Lecture Series is provided by SMAS, MOR, and MSGC.

  • John Bogard to talk Friday, Oct.30 at SMAS meeting

    Posted on October 27th, 2009 Richard Sabo No comments

    John Bognar, past director of MSU’s high altitude scientific balloon program (BOREALIS,) will talk about the current status of high altitude ballooning.
    John has a company (Anasphere) that has developed some radiosonde kits that let students gather their own atmospheric data with sensors they launch on small helium balloons. Their web site summarizes most of the educational work and outreach.