Check out the link above for our 2017 Outreach Schedule. Always a work in progress, check often.
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.
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.
Upcoming Meetings and Outreach Events
Note that outdoor events are weather permitting
February 25, Saturday 7 – 9 p.m.
Star Party at the Dune Climb, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This is the only winter star party at the Dunes.
March 3, Friday
GTAS Monthly Meeting: 8 p.m. - NMC Rogers Observatory.
Program: To be announced
Party: 9 p.m. - NMC Rogers Observatory.
This article is provided 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!
Comet Campaign: Amateurs Wanted
By Marcus Woo
In a cosmic coincidence, three comets will soon be approaching Earth—and astronomers want you to help study them. This global campaign, which will begin at the end of January when the first comet is bright enough, will enlist amateur astronomers to help researchers continuously monitor how the comets change over time and, ultimately, learn what these ancient ice chunks reveal about the origins of the solar system.
Over the last few years, spacecraft like NASA's Deep Impact/EPOXI or ESA's Rosetta (of which NASA played a part) discovered that comets are more dynamic than anyone realized. The missions found that dust and gas burst from a comet's nucleus every few days or weeks—fleeting phenomena that would have gone unnoticed if it weren't for the constant and nearby observations. But space missions are expensive, so for three upcoming cometary visits, researchers are instead recruiting the combined efforts of telescopes from around the world.
"This is a way that we hope can get the same sorts of observations: by harnessing the power of the masses from various amateurs," says Matthew Knight, an astronomer at the University of Maryland.
By observing the gas and dust in the coma (the comet's atmosphere of gas and dust), and tracking outbursts, amateurs will help professional researchers measure the properties of the comet's nucleus, such as its composition, rotation speed, and how well it holds together.
The observations may also help NASA scout out future destinations. The three targets are so-called Jupiter family comets, with relatively short periods just over five years—and orbits that are accessible to spacecraft. "The better understood a comet is," Knight says, "the better NASA can plan for a mission and figure out what the environment is going to be like, and what specifications the spacecraft will need to ensure that it will be successful."
The first comet to arrive is 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak, whose prime window runs from the end of January to the end of July. Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova will be most visible between mid-February and mid-March. The third target, comet 46P/Wirtanen won't arrive until 2018.
Still, the opportunity to observe three relatively bright comets within roughly 18 months is rare. "We're talking 20 or more years since we've had anything remotely resembling this," Knight says. "Telescope technology and our knowledge of comets are just totally different now than the last time any of these were good for observing."
For more information about how to participate in the campaign, visit http://www.psi.edu/41P45P46P.
Want to teach kids about the anatomy of a comet? Go to the NASA Space Place and use Comet on a Stick activity! http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/comet-stick.
An orbit diagram of comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak on February 8, 2017—a day that falls during the comet’s prime visibility window. The planets orbits are white curves and the comet’s orbit is a blue curve. The brighter lines indicate the portion of the orbit that is above the ecliptic plane defined by Earth’s orbital plane and the darker portions are below the ecliptic plane. This image was created with the Orbit Viewer applet, provided by the Osamu Ajiki (AstroArts) and modified by Ron Baalke (Solar System Dynamics group, JPL). http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb.cgi?orb=1;sstr=41P
Editor’s note: For more information on the first two comets (45P and 41P) go to Seiichi Yoshida’s Weekly information about bright comets: http://www.aerith.net/comet/weekly/current.html.
NASA Space Place poster
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 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.
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.
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 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. A tird telescope will be given to the Kingsley District Library.
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.