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

    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.

  • September 2016 SMAS meeting


    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.

  • White House Astronomy Night: A Celebration of Science, Technology, and Space

    Join the Southwest Montana Astronomical Society as we celebrate the White House Astronomy Night.  Astronomy clubs around the nation will be heading to the lawn with telescopes to view the night sky.  We will be at the Bozeman Public Library front lawn Monday October 19, 2015 starting at 6:30 p.m.  Starting off with a short talk “What’s up in our night sky”, followed by viewing through telescopes.

    To find out more about the White House Astronomy Night check out this link.

    The Bozeman Public Library is located at 626 East Main Street, Bozeman.

  • May SMAS meeting

    NOTE: New time, one hour earlier.  Our May SMAS club meeting will take place on Friday May 30th, 6:00 pm in the Redstart room, downstairs at the Museum of the Rockies.

    With nice weather, it’s time to take out your telescope and start using it.  We will learn how to collimate a Newtonian dob type and a Schmidt Cassegrain type of telescope.  Having a properly collimated telescope enhances your viewing.  We will have club members demonstrate how to collimate a telescope and what tools to use.   Take out the eye piece  from your telescope and look into your telescope, see diagram to the left… hopefully it doesn’t look like view A or B above.  If it does, don’t worry, that is what we’ll help you to fix. A properly collimated telescope should look like view C.   Bring your telescope and you can work along side as you listen to our members show you how to get the best out of your telescope.  We will be inside as we do this class.  Weather permitting we may go and try out our properly aligned telescopes.  Come prepared in case we do.  Class from 6-8, sun set at 9:05 pm.

  • TEDx 2014

    As promised, TEDx info for Shane and Michelle Larson. Shane gave a presentation at Northwestern on Pluto and Michelle was in Bozeman and talked about verbs, aka action words. Also a link to Shane’s blog.
    Shane TEDx:
    Shane blog:
    Michelle’s TEDx:

  • As seen on TV

    There has been several great astronomical events recently, and Mike Heard at KBZK helped to get the word out.  A short clip for Astronomy Day was shown the first week of April, followed by a live appearance for the eclipse on the KBZK studio patio.  Jacob Kushner had first light on the Hiscock Telescope on April 14th live on TV as we were waiting on the eclipse.  Jacob has been building the scope from the MSGC grant with the help of several high school students and some members of SMAS.

  • Save the dates

    There are some events that are coming up that we wanted to let you know about.

    April 5 – Astronomy Day at the Museum of the Rockies 12-4pm

    April 14-15 – Total Lunar Eclipse – no local event planned, but be sure to get out and observe.

    April 25 – Next SMAS meeting at the Museum of the Rockies, 7pm

    June 22 – the First International  SUN-day, at the Bozeman Public  Library 3-5pm

    June 27-28 – Stars Over Yellowstone June weekend at Madison Amphitheater, with Jim Manning

    July 25-26 – Stars Over Yellowstone July weekend at Madison Amphitheater, with Mike Murray

    August 21-24 – Montana Starwatch: go to for more information

  • SMAS Outreach to rural schools and beyond

    Joe Witherspoon is the new SMAS Vice President this year, he is also the committee head for SMAS Outreach.  This past week, March 24-28th, Joe worked with the Sheridan Montana public school and conducted a week of activities.  Solar observing and dark sky observing, walking out The Earth is a Peppercorn to show size and distance, plus many more fun activities to engage the young students.

    In June, Joe will work with a group of 11-13 year olds from over seas who are visiting the Big Sky country.  He said they will make planispheres, watch a green laser constellation tour, then view stars in a dark sky setting.  Most of these students live in a large city and have not seen a dark sky.

    Lynn Powers is working with the Arrowhead K-8 school in the Paradise Valley.  For the April total lunar eclipse, students there wanted to mark the occasion with a science night. The event will showcase the science fair, guest speakers, activities and viewing the eclipse.  Students from the Bozeman High School Astronomy club will be judges for the science fair and help with the telescopes

  • March Winter Lecture Series

    Join us on March 28, 2014 at 7:00 p.m., Hagar Auditorium at the Museum of the Rockies to hear Dr. Sarah Jaeggli from MSU, Solar Physics Postdoctoral Researcher, her talk will be an IRIS mission update.

    The Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) is a new mission to look at the Sun which was launched June 27, 2013.  IRIS was designed to look at a very mysterious region above the Sun’s visible surface where the very hot gas of the corona (1 million degrees Celsius) meets the very cool gas of the chromosphere (5000 degrees Celsius).  The mystery lies in how the Sun maintains the chromosphere at such a cool temperature while transferring energy through it into the hot corona.  The MSU solar physics group is part of the international team responsible for building  the instrument, operating it, and analyzing the images it sends back to Earth.  In this lecture she’ll give an update on the IRIS mission and talk  about the new science that is being done at MSU.
  • March: National Women’s History Month 2014

    The theme for National Women’s History Month this year is: Celebrating Women of Character, Courage and Commitment.  NASA is spotlighting women in STEM careers and has asked local clubs to highlight this locally.

    Several events are planned in and around Bozeman.  The bookclub selection and children’s storytime for the Bozeman Public Library this month have been chosen with this theme in mind.  A talk from SMAS will be given at ParkHaven on Tuesday March 11th.   The library’s Family Science night on Tuesday March 18th is being put on by the Bozeman High School Astronomy Club with several of the girls from the club conducting the activities.  On Friday March 28th, SMAS is having Dr. Sarah Jaeggli give an update on the IRIS mission for the winter lecture series to close out the month of activities.