Amateur Astronomy Under The Big Sky
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  • International Observe the Moon Night

    Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 12.38.05 PMInternational Observe the Moon Night (InOMN) is an annual worldwide public event that encourages observation, appreciation, and understanding of our Moon and its connection to NASA planetary science and exploration, as well as the cultural and personal connections we all have with Earth’s nearest neighbor. Everyone on Earth is invited to join the celebration by observing or attending an InOMN event — and uniting on one day each year to look at and learn about the Moon together.  SMAS has participated in this event for the past seven years, and this year is no exception.  Join us at 5:00 p.m. on the lawn in front of the Bozeman Public Library on Saturday October 28th if the skies are clear!  Clouds cancel the event.  Observe the moon through telescopes and much more.

  • Dakota Nights Astronomy Festival Sept. 15-17

    Dakota-Nights-Poster2SMAS has been supporting the Dakota Nights Astronomy Festival for the past four years.  Held at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora North Dakota, this event packs a lot into the three days!  Year 5 of the event is no exception.   We are proud to partner with our State and National Parks for events.
    This years schedule:

    Daytime Activities – Saturday & Sunday – Sept. 16 & 17, 2017

    9:00am to 4:00pm Discovery Dome Theater
    Immerse yourself in films about outer space, planets, stars, and black holes! Films are shown in the full-dome theater on the hour from 9:00am to 4:00 pm in the South Unit Visitor Center.

    10:00am to 1:00om Kids’ Crafts and Activities
    Join rangers at Chimney Park in Medora for FREE hands-on activities that help kids learn about astronomy.

    11:00am (Saturday only) Eclipse with Lynn Powers
    NASA Solar System Ambassador, Lynn Powers, presents a summary of the August 21st solar eclipse and shows you where, when, and how to see the next one at the Chateau De Mores Interpretive Center in Medora.

    1:00 to 3:00pm Rocket Building and Launching
    Build, paint, and launch a rocket at Chimney Park in Medora. Rocket kits are $10.

    3:00pm Telescope Building
    Build a real, working telescope at Chimney Park in Medora. Then, take your scope home and start exploring the night sky where you live. Kits are $10.

    3:00pm Saving our Night Skies
    NASA Ambassador, Chris Milford, shares his research and findings related to light pollution in North Dakota and his quest to save the darkness of our precious night skies.

    1:00 to 4:00pm Solar Viewing
    Have you ever seen a sunspot? Safely view the sun (and its spots!) through telescopes and by other means at the South Unit Visitor Center.

    Featured Presentations

    7:00pm in the Cottonwood Campground Amphitheater

    Friday – NASA Cassini Mission Crash into Saturn
    For more than 12 years, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has been collecting scientific information and photos of Saturn. Astronomer and NASA Ambassador, Lynn Powers, discusses the Cassini Mission and its grand finale as it crashes into the ringed planet today, September 15, 2017.

    Saturday – The Importance of Darkness
    Learn about the impacts of light pollution on wildlife with a focus on some of night’s most misunderstood creatures-bats! Dr. Paul Barnhart will explain the importance of these unique mammals and how human-created light impacts their behavior and survival.

    Stargazing and Telescopes

    Friday, Saturday, & Sunday 8:00pm
    Peaceful Valley Ranch

    Following the featured presentations each night, join Astronomers and Rangers out under the stars at the Peaceful Valley Ranch. Hear stories, myths, and legends about the stars as you make your way around the telescope field. Bundle up, bring your friends and family, and join us as we gather to marvel at the wonders of the dark night sky.

  • Montana Star Watch – 2017

    Coming up on September 15-17, join SMAS and other amateur astronomers for Montana Star Watch.  Follow this link for more information such as:  directions to the site outside of Twin Bridges, Montana; line up of speakers; events such as meals and swap meet; and a paypal link to pay for your reservation. DSC03175DSC03159

  • August 21st Solar Eclipse

    SMAS members are out and about this summer preparing for the Great American Eclipse on Monday morning August 21st.  We’ll be doing presentations in Glacier NP, Waterton International Peace Park, Yellowstone NP, and Cooney State Park.  You can find us at the Emerson’s Lunch on the Lawn most Wednesdays starting after the 4th of July, also several presentations at the Bozeman Public Library ( 7/21, and 8/4).
    We have two members running sites in Idaho for the Citizen CATE Experiment, the Idaho state coordinator is our own SMAS club president.

    View responsibly and look under our resources tab for more links.


    Here we are preparing for the 2017 eclipse during the partial eclipse in October 2014. 1899889_712019915558231_2582764873985311613_n

  • May SMAS update

    We are still working on getting a date set for our trip into the Belts to see a medicine wheel and cairns.  We’ll send out information when we have something set up.

    We are less than 100 days until the August 21st solar eclipse. Many dates have been set up around the valley for outreach and education. Check it out.

    Several club members are participating in large solar outreach events during the eclipse, including: Citizen CATE Experiment, EclipseMob, Megamovie, GLOBE and more.


  • April 2017 Winter Lecture Series

    slider_image_5The next installment of the Southwest Montana Astronomical Society Winter Lecture Series takes place this Friday, April 21st, 7:00 p.m. at the Commons (Baxter at Love Lanes), down in the classrooms on the East side of the building.   We’ll welcome Dave Hoffman for his talk about his journey from the Navy to NASA and how jobs skills can be used to further space exploration.  Dave is a current student at Montana State University and a Johnson Space Center co-op intern.

    The followed by, next weekend April 29th, for club members only, we will be holding our Messier Marathon.  Potluck sign up and directions to the site in Gallatin Gateway will go out next week via email to club members.

  • March 2017 Winter Lecture Series with Dr. Joe Shaw

    Join SMAS at 7:00 p.m. on Friday March 31st at the Commons for the next installment of the Winter Lecture Series when we host Dr. Joseph Shaw, professor at Montana State University and Director of the Optical Technology Center for a free talk.  His new book, Optics in the Air, recently published, will be the focus of this talk.

    Optics in the Air16806950_1248884115205139_3774019949648302751_n

    The world around us is full of beautiful and interesting displays of light and color, ranging from the colors of the sky and rainbows to the swirling Aurora Borealis. Many of these optical phenomena can be seen from an airplane, and some are best viewed while airborne. This talk is an introduction to optical phenomena in the natural world, primarily in the atmosphere and seen from an airplane (“in the air”). We will follow a simple approach that can be understood and enjoyed by all levels of scientific training.

  • eXtreme Gravity – lecture

    MSU professor and astrophysicist Neil Cornish will present Cornish“Extreme Gravity,” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 7, at the Museum of the Rockies’ Hager Auditorium. A reception will follow.

    There are places in our Universe where gravity is so strong that it blurs the separation between space and time, and transforms matter into strange new forms. This the realm of extreme gravity. Gravity eventually causes stars to collapse, sometimes forming diamonds the size of the moon, other times forming mountain sized orbs of nuclear matter. The fate of the largest stars is even stranger, as gravity crashes matter out of existence to form a black hole – a region of space from which not even light can escape. Today we are able to explore the realm of extreme gravity for the first time using a new generation of telescope, one the size of the Earth, one that will soon be attached to the International Space station, and another that listens to the vibrations of gravity itself.


  • 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.

  • 2017 and the Great American Eclipse

    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