Check out the link above for our 2018 Outreach Schedule. Always a work in progress, check often.

About Us

The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to to education and enjoyment of the night sky. Established in 1982, the GTAS has about 30 members from the Traverse City and the Grand Traverse area of northern Michigan.  Meetings are held on the first Friday of every month beginning at 8 p.m. at Northwestern Michigan College's Joseph H. Rogers Observatory, though the August meeting is preempted by the annual picnic at another location.

Guests are always welcome to our meetings.

Over 750 attended the society sponsored Comet Hyakutake Watches March 23, and 24th, 1996. The farthest traveler came from Detroit to enjoy the dark skies and the spectacular comet through many telescopes. Comet Hale-Bopp attracted approximately 1,400 during the three scheduled viewing nights that were clear.

We've hit the road, so to speak, with outreach beyond the NMC Observatory since 2007. Since 2011 we've held monthly star parties at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore from April to October with additional eclipse and meteor shower watches. We bring our telescopes and exhibits to several festivals around the area along with Friday Night Live in Traverse City. Since 2010 the society has been hosting monthly star parties at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and beginning in 2016 at the Arcadia Dunes.

The GTAS belongs to the International Dark-Sky Association and participates in Project Astro.

We also participate in the annual International Observe the Moon Night.

Upcoming Meetings and Outreach Events

Note that outdoor events are weather permitting

September 19th, Wednesday

Star Party: 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. - Traverse Area District Library – Woodmere Ave., TC. 7 p.m. talk, 8 p.m. If it's clear: Moon, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, possibly Venus

September 21st, Friday

Star Party: 7 p.m. - 10 p.m. - Betsie Valley District Library, Thompsonville. 7 p.m. talk, 8 p.m. If it's clear: Moon, Mars, Saturn

September 29th, Saturday

Acme Fall Festival, Flintfields Horse Park, Bates Rd, Acme, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sun, Venus, and exhibits

October 3rd, Wednesday

Star Party: 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. - Traverse Area District Library – Woodmere Ave., TC. 7 p.m. talk, 8 p.m. If it's clear: , Mars, Saturn plus some of the brighter wonders of the Milky Way.

October 5th, Friday

General Meeting: 8 p.m. - NMC Rogers Observatory.

Program: All about choosing a telescope, or not, for Christmas giving,

Star Party: 9 p.m. - NMC Rogers Observatory.
If it's clear: Mars, Saturn, the Milky Way from Cassiopeia to northern Sagittarius.

October 20th, Saturday

International Observe the Moon Night: 8 p.m. to whenever. 200 Block of Front St., Traverse City.

October 21th, Sunday

Star Party: 8 - 10 p.m. - Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Dune Climb. Celebrating the 48th anniversary of the park! The Moon and Mars.

November 2nd, Friday

General Meeting: 8 p.m. - NMC Rogers Observatory.

Program: Hands on Moon phase demonstrations. Make your own star finder for any date and night time. And more.

Star Party: 9 p.m. - NMC Rogers Observatory.
If it's clear: Saturn early, Mars, Great Andromeda Galaxy, Pleiades, Double Cluster, northern Milky Way.

December 7th, Friday

General Meeting: 8 p.m. - NMC Rogers Observatory.

Program: In Search of the Star of Bethlehem by Bob Moler. Looking at evidence for and against the star of the Magi.

Star Party: 9 p.m. - NMC Rogers Observatory.
If it's clear: Mars, Great Andromeda Galaxy, Great Orion Nebula, Pleiades, Double Cluster.


This article is distributed by NASA Space Place.

With articles, activities, crafts, games, and lesson plans, NASA Space Place encourages everyone to get excited about science and technology. Visit spaceplace.nasa.gov to explore space and Earth science!

A Trip Through the Milky Way

By Jane Houston Jones and Jessica Stoller-Conrad

Feeling like you missed out on planning a last vacation of summer? Don’t worry—you can still take a late summertime road trip along the Milky Way!

The waning days of summer are upon us, and that means the Sun is setting earlier now. These earlier sunsets reveal a starry sky bisected by the Milky Way. Want to see this view of our home galaxy? Head out to your favorite dark sky getaway or to the darkest city park or urban open space you can find.

While you’re out there waiting for a peek at the Milky Way, you’ll also have a great view of the planets in our solar system. Keep an eye out right after sunset and you can catch a look at Venus. If you have binoculars or a telescope, you’ll see Venus’s phase change dramatically during September—from nearly half phase to a larger, thinner crescent.

Jupiter, Saturn and reddish Mars are next in the sky, as they continue their brilliant appearances this month. To see them, look southwest after sunset. If you’re in a dark sky and you look above and below Saturn, you can’t miss the summer Milky Way spanning the sky from southwest to northeast.

You can also use the summer constellations to help you trace a path across the Milky Way. For example, there’s Sagittarius, where stars and some brighter clumps appear as steam from a teapot. Then there is Aquila, where the Eagle’s bright Star Altair combined with Cygnus’s Deneb and Lyra’s Vega mark what’s called the “summer triangle.” The familiar W-shaped constellation Cassiopeia completes the constellation trail through the summer Milky Way. Binoculars will reveal double stars, clusters and nebulae all along the Milky Way.

Between Sept. 12 and 20, watch the Moon pass from near Venus, above Jupiter, to the left of Saturn and finally above Mars!

This month, both Neptune and brighter Uranus can also be spotted with some help from a telescope. To see them, look in the southeastern sky at 1 a.m. or later. If you stay awake, you can also find Mercury just above Earth’s eastern horizon shortly before sunrise. Use the Moon as a guide on Sept. 7 and 8.

Although there are no major meteor showers in September*, cometary dust appears in another late summer sight, the morning zodiacal light. Zodiacal light looks like a cone of soft light in the night sky. It is produced when sunlight is scattered by dust in our solar system. Try looking for it in the east right before sunrise on the moonless mornings of Sept. 8 through Sept 23.

You can catch up on all of NASA’s current—and future—missions at www.nasa.gov

constellations in milky way


Caption: This illustration shows how the summer constellations trace a path across the Milky Way. To get the best views, head out to the darkest sky you can find. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


NASA Space Place poster


Download the poster by clicking the image above.


To see the video that goes along with this poster, visit: http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/sun-heat.


Links

For Kids: NASA’s Space Place website

The Space Place is a NASA website for elementary school-aged kids, their teachers, and their parents.

It’s colorful!
It’s dynamic!
It’s fun!

It’s rich with science, technology, engineering, and math content!

It’s informal. It’s meaty. It’s easy to read and understand. It’s also in Spanish. And it’s free!

It has over 150 separate modules for kids, including hands-on projects, interactive games, animated cartoons, and amazing facts about space and Earth science and technology.


See this month's Space Place article at the bottom of the center panel on this page.


Also check out these two sites for kids: NASA's Climate Kids and NOAA's SciJinks


Bob Moler's Ephemeris contains audio mp3s of current Ephemeris programs; calendars of sunrise, sunset,moonrise and moonset for the Grand Traverse area of Michigan, and other locations in northern Michigan; plus a monthly star chart.


Also  Bob's Ephemeris Blog with daily transcripts of and illustrations for his daily Ephemeris programs on Interlochen Public Radio. Wednesday’s program looks at where the bright planets are along with finder charts.


Northwestern Michigan College's Joseph H. Rogers Observatory


If you'd like to donate

From Article II, B of the Articles of Incorporation of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society:

The Society shall operate a scientific and educational organization with the goal of increasing interest in, the knowledge and enjoyment of astronomy; cooperate with similar organizations; and cooperate with Northwestern Michigan College to increase the benefit of the college observatory to the community.

As you can see by the statement above the society is inexorably linked to the Joseph H. Rogers observatory.  However in the past number of years members have been also taking telescopes out into the community, on sidewalks and street corners, and in the street on Friday Night Live, and to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. We find that many folks in the area have never been out to the observatory. This way we are going to to the public. And having a huge telescope is really be a huge attraction, not to mention the superb views of the heavens it will provide.

We have purchased a 25 inch Dobsonian telescope with trailer to use and to take around for our outreach program. We have also purchased a solar telescope to view the Sun's prominences, and are looking to obtain a second solar telescope. We feature a solar viewing time at the Sleeping Bear Dunes before the star parties in June, July and August.

We have recently purchased small telescopes to give to libraries for them to lend out. The first two recipients are Traverse Area District Library and Betsie Valley District Library. Enerdyne of Suttons Bay donated the second telescope..

You may contribute to the fund to help us upgrade and add accessories to the society's telescopes by mailing a check to the GTAS, C/O the society treasurer Gary Carlisle, 1473 Birmley Rd, Traverse City, MI  49686. We are a 501(c)(3) non profit organization. Donations are tax deductible.

Thank You!

Updated: 09/18/18 09:36:37 AM