Southwest Montana Astronomical Society

Amateur Astronomy Under The Big Sky
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  • February 2017 Winter Lecture Series – by Dr. Ivy Merriot

    Posted on January 29th, 2017 Lynn Powers No comments

    Join SMAS on Friday February 10th starting at 7:00 p.m. at the Commons (Baxter Lane at Love Lane) for a free public talk by Dr. Ivy Merriot. Bighorn Medicine Wheel

    The Dance of Stars Above the Big Horn Medicine Wheel

     The Big Horn Medicine Wheel, an eighty-foot circle of stones at nearly 10,000 feet in the mountains of Wyoming has long been known to “point” to the Sun on the morning of the longest day of the year. Ivy Merriot, PhD will share her current research on astronomical medicine wheels, showing how these wheels mirror the stars above, giving us an enduring, accurate, and cosmo-tuned method of marking time and tracking cosmic events. The Wheel’s mirroring of the sky above creates a dynamic star chart you can walk inside of, like the holographic map room in Star Trek. With a skywatcher’s skill-set, any visible celestial object can be studied over time from this type of astronomical Wheel, the Sun, Moon, planets, comets, asteroids, etc. The stone design of these astronomical medicine wheels make them instruments as useful in visual astronomy today as they were five thousand years ago.

  • 2017 and the Great American Eclipse

    Posted on January 28th, 2017 Lynn Powers No comments

    On the morning of Monday August 21, 2017 a total solar eclipse will cross North America.  Screen Shot 2017-01-24 at 1.07.17 PMOnly those along the path of totality will experience the sun being totally blocked by the moon and the sky going black.  All others from Canada through the US and Mexico, and on down to Central America will experience a partial eclipse.  Here in Bozeman it will be approximately 95% coverage.  If you plan to go south into Wyoming or Idaho, you could experience totality. If you plan on staying here in Bozeman, be sure you have proper equipment to observe the eclipse.  For a better view click on the image:

    AAS-Solar-Eclipse-Safety-v160824  Follow this link for more information on how you can safely observe the eclipse

  • January SMAS meeting

    Posted on January 21st, 2017 Lynn Powers No comments

    Join us at the Sore Elbow Forge on Friday January 27th at 7:00 p.m. guest speaker Deanta Kelly will talk about the Pulsar search collaboration that Montana State University is doing with local high school students.   Stay tuned for the Winter Lecture Series: Feb – Dr. Ivy Merriott will update us on her Medicine Wheel research, March – Dr. Joe Shaw will share his new book with us, April – Dave Hoffman will talk about what he is doing as a NASA intern.   April the club will have a members only Messier Marathon.  In May SMAS members will travel to private land to view and research a set of cairns and a medicine wheel. 2017 will be a fabulous year!

  • SMAS 2016 winter meeting

    Posted on November 21st, 2016 Lynn Powers No comments

    The next SMAS club meeting will be on December 2nd, 7:00 at the Sore Elbow Forge.  We normally combine our November and December club meetings and meet the first Friday in December – and hold our annual elections. SMAS club secretary Chris Roulson is working on the slate for the board, contact him if you have any questions.

    There are a lot of exciting events coming up in 2017, including:

    January, February and March we will have our Winter Lecture Series, stay tuned for a list of dates and speakers.

    August 21st – the Great American Eclipse!

  • ISS turns 16

    Posted on November 7th, 2016 Lynn Powers No comments

    920x920This week NASA celebrated the sixteenth anniversary of the International Space Station. From 1998 to 2011, space agencies from 15 different countries amalgamated to form what is to date, the largest ever structure in space. November 2, 2016 celebrates the continuous presence of humans on board.
    Here are some links that show the history of the ISS. Enjoy!
    16 GIFS for 16 years.
    Interactive ISS

    NASA video ISS fly through in HD, get a look at the inside.

    Spot the ISS – Watch the ISS go over head.  Make sure you set your location.

  • Free online Astronomy book

    Posted on November 3rd, 2016 Lynn Powers No comments

    We are excited to let you know about a national, non-profit project to develop a high-quality, introductory astronomy textbook that is free to students and the public alike. The publisher, OpenStax, is located at Rice University and supported by several major foundations (including the Gates Foundation.) They have already done over 20 free textbooks in other fields, used by hundreds of thousands of students around the country.

    With the help of over 75 astronomers and astronomy educators (several that I know), the textbook (cleverly named Astronomy,) has been adapted, expanded, and updated from earlier textbooks the three authors have written. The book is free to students in the electronic version, and can be custom printed on demand – at cost. Even more interesting, the book is open source, which means you can use it as is, or develop your own electronic version of it, selecting only the sections you want to read.

    Astronomy book

    Featuring such current topics as the results from the New Horizons exploration of Pluto, the classification of exoplanets from Kepler and other projects, and the discovery of gravitational waves, the book is up-to-date and peer reviewed. At the same time, it is written in everyday language specifically for non-science majors or amateur astronomers, with many analogies from students’ lives, clear diagrams, the latest color images, and occasional touches of humor.

    Math boxes throughout the chapters put topics on a quantitative footing for those who want to use math. Each chapter has math problems at the end. However, if you don’t use math, these boxes and problems can easily be skipped. Chapters also include suggested collaborative group activities, especially useful for discussion sections, links to web resources, biographies of astronomers, interdisciplinary connections, and much more.

  • October SMAS Meeting

    Posted on October 28th, 2016 Lynn Powers No comments

    big-glass-mirrorJoin us on Friday October 28th at the Sore Elbow Forge starting at 7:00.

    Last month we voted to up the memory for our web page. That was done, and we have uploaded the Big Glass Powerpoint Presentation that Bill M. did for us in the spring. Thanks Bill, hope you all enjoy viewing the slides, you can find them under the Gallery tab above.

  • September 2016 SMAS meeting

    Posted on September 28th, 2016 Lynn Powers No comments


    Join us Friday September 30th starting at 7:00 p.m. at the Sore Elbow Forge.

    We’ll catch up after our summer break.  Learn about setting up our scopes so they track well.  View some lunar samples from the Apollo missions.

    See you there!
    Free and open to the public.

  • Montana Star Watch

    Posted on August 29th, 2016 Lynn Powers No comments

    Coming up this weekend, September 2-5 at the Cottonwood Observatory.  Visit the Montana Star Watch website for more information and scheduled events.  Hope to see you there!

  • New SMAS and GLOBE Partnership

    Posted on August 7th, 2016 Lynn Powers No comments

    GLOBElogo_color-arc_smSMAS is excited to announce that we are now the 4th GLOBE Partner in Montana, the University of Montana, Salish Kootenai College, and Stone Child College are the other three Partners.  The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program is an international science and education program that provides students and the public worldwide with the opportunity to participate in data collection and the scientific process, and contribute meaningfully to our understanding of the Earth system and global environment.

    GLOBE provides grade level-appropriate, interdisciplinary activities and investigations about the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and soil/pedosphere, which have been developed by the scientific community and validated by teachers.  GLOBE connects students, teachers, scientists, and citizens from different parts of the world to conduct real, hands-on science about their local environment and put in a global perspective.

    GLOBE is jointly sponsored by NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF), with support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Department of State.

    GLOBE Partners promote GLOBE to schools and the public in their area, train teachers and citizens on GLOBE protocols, and encourage GLOBE schools.  A SMAS member is one of the seven Montana GLOBE Trainers.

    Data is collected in different GLOBE Field Measurement Campaigns or through the collection of “ground truth” measurements by GLOBE students of NASA Earth Observing Satellite missions.  These measurements contribute to satellite mission calibration and validation programs, such as NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive Mission (SMAP).  SMAP measures soil moisture from space and has applications in science, agriculture, and environmental management, each of them vital to Earth’s health and sustainability.  From understanding the processes that link the water, carbon, and energy cycles to improving weather and climate prediction models, SMAP will advance environmental knowledge.  The Bridger Program at Bozeman High School participated in the SMAP campaign with the help of a SMAS member.

    Interested in more information about GLOBE, visit the GLOBE website or contact us