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 NightThe 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!
Stars Over Yellowstone 2012
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.
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.
Co-founder and chief scientist of the SETI@home to give next SMAS lecture!
Dan Werthimer, co-founder and chief scientist of the SETI@home project, will present “IS ANYBODY OUT THERE? The Search for ET with help from Eight Million Volunteers,” on Friday, Oct. 15, at 6 p.m. in the Hager Auditorium at the Museum the Rockies.
Werthimer will discuss the possibility of life in the universe and the search for radio and optical signals from other civilizations. He will also discuss other citizen science projects, next generation telescopes, instrumentation, and algorithms for SETI, as well as speculate on when earthlings might discover other civilizations.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Sponsors of the lecture include the Montana State University Physics Department, Museum of the Rockies, Montana ESPCoR and Southwest Montana Astronomical Society.
Fred Birk, Past President of SMAS to speak on VLA
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 ObservatoryVLA, The Very Large Array in New MexicoGuide Post to the FutureThe 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
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!!
Thank you Dr. Larson…
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.
John Bogard to talk Friday, Oct.30 at SMAS meeting
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 anasphere.com summarizes most of the educational work and outreach.
NASA’s Mars Phoenix Mission P.I. to give special SMAS presentation on October 8th.
Dr. Peter Smith of NASA’s Mars Phoenix Mission will deliver a lectured entitled “Phoenix in Winter Wonderland” during a special meeting of SMAS that will be held on October 8th. This event will be in the Hager Auditorium of the Museum of the Rockies, and will begin promptly at 7:00PM. This event is free and open to the public.
Dr. Smith’s abstract for the presentation is as follows:
Phoenix recently completed a five-month-long investigation of the Martian arctic and found water ice just beneath the dry surface soil. Comparing Antarctic dry valleys with the Martian polar plains leads to the conclusion that liquid water helped create the minerals in the soil. Snow has been observed falling from overlying clouds and frost is seen on the surface. Water is clearly part of the climate cycle and leads to the question: Is this a location where life is possible on Mars?
MSU’s Littenberg to give September 25th SMAS lecture
Dr. Tyson Littenberg of MSU’s Physics Department will deliver a lecture entitled “Revealing Einstein’s Universe: The Gravitational Wave Detection Problem” during our September 25th general meeting. This event will be held in the Redstart Classroom of the Museum of the Rockies and will begin promptly at 7:00PM. As always, this event is free and open to the public.