Amateur Astronomy Under The Big Sky
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  • High Altitude Skywatching

    On Thursday  September 27, at 6pm at the Museum of the Rockies,  the Extreme History Project will sponsor a free public talk by Ivy Merriot, a PhD candidate at Montana State University. Ivy will share her research on the Big Horn Medicine Wheel, viewed as a pedagogical instrument for learning sky-earth relationships. If you were one of the forty people turned away from her spring talk due to a full house, this is another opportunity for entertainment and enlightenment.

    The Big Horn Medicine: Alive by Night

    The Big Horn Medicine Wheel, just south of the Crow and Cheyenne nation continues to draw visitors of every nationality and spiritual background. The knowledge there wells up from deep sources of indigenous ways of knowing and ancient astronomical skywatching skills.
    The talk will focus on historical interpretations of the Wheel and how these interpretations color the story of what has been and what continues to be feasible and practical at this Wheel. For past researchers who did not understand the depth of indigenous astronomical knowledge, it has been convenient to categorize the Wheel as a “ceremonial space” without delving deeper into what that might mean. Today, many historians accept that ceremonies have deep holistic ties to the landscape, to living beings on earth, and to the sky. What Western science calls “objective science” are now found to be fluently cohesive with subjective experience. We can now dismantle the filters of “primitive” and “religion” and attempt to construct a scientific evidence-based interpretation, admitting where the subjective unknowns leave us baffled. We now have a way to tell the story of the Big Horn Medicine Wheel without confining it to past prejudices (although this doesn’t free it from possible present prejudices!)

    “The Big Horn Medicine Wheel sleeps by day and awakens at night,” Merriot reminds us. Has history only looked at the Wheel during the day, while it sleeps? If so, what has this past, academic historical approach missed? Join us for an all-new talk about the “dark side” of the Big Horn Medicine Wheel. The talk is free and open to the public.
    Forty years ago, recognition of this American “Stonehenge” caused a world-wide stir in the popular media. In 2012, evidence suggests the wheel continues to track and predict astronomical changes through time. Join us and discover how this skywatching “observatory” continues to speak to us, 5000 years beyond the origin of this rock design in North America.
    9/27/12 8:00 p.m.
    Just back from this lecture.  Great turn out!  This was new and updated from her talk earlier this year and included pictures of her at the medicine wheel on the Autumnal Equinox a few days ago.  Thanks Ivy!
  • From the Big Bang to Broadway: How Things Evolve – Lecture at MOR

    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.

  • Summer Observing

    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.

  • Stars over Bozeman star parties planned

    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.

  • Free single axis motor drive system

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