Check out the link above for our 2019 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
May 3rd, Friday
General Meeting: 8 p.m. - NMC Rogers Observatory.
Program: Jerry Dobek – Resolution. Not the New Years kind but resolving the black hole in the galaxy M87. Can we say Interferometry?
Party: 9 p.m. - NMC Rogers Observatory.
May 9, 10, 11, Thursday – Saturday
GTAS Annual Yard Sale: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. - 1473 Birmley Rd, Traverse City, MI. Bring donations by May 8th, or the days of the sale.
May 11th, Saturday
Star Party: 9 p.m. - NMC Rogers Observatory. Astronomy Day, Moon, Mars early, binary stars, brighter deep sky objects late (Twilight)
May 19th, Sunday
NMC Barbecue, NMC Campus: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Sun, Meteorites, Exhibits
May 25th, Saturday
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – Dune Climb: 9 – 11 p.m. Binary stars, brighter deep sky objects late (Twilight)
June 7th, Friday
General Meeting: 8 p.m. - NMC Rogers Observatory.
Program: To Be announced
Party: 9 p.m. - NMC Rogers Observatory.
June 8th, Saturday
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – Dune Climb: 4-6 p.m. solar viewing & 9-11 p.m. Moon, Mars, Jupiter late (Twilight)
June 11th, Tuesday
La Senorita Fundraiser: 2455 N. US 31 South, Traverse City (Location change). Get ticket from Gary Carlisle at a GTAS event before this date. Eat or buy gift cards on this date and the GTAS gets 20%. We’ll have telescopes on site.
June 14th, Friday
Betsie Valley District Library, Thompsonville: 8:30 p.m. to ?. Twilight talk & Moon viewing Party – Topic Apollo and the Moon Race by Bob Moler.
This article is distributed by NASA Night Sky Network
The Night Sky Network program supports astronomy clubs across the USA dedicated to astronomy outreach
NASA Night Sky Notes:
Watching the Late Spring Skies
By David Prosper
Late spring brings warmer nights, making it more comfortable to observe a good showing of the Eta Aquarids meteor shower. Skywatchers can also look for the delicate Coma Star Cluster, and spot the Moon on the anniversary of Apollo 10’s “test run” prior to the Moon landing in 1969.
The Eta Aquarids meteor shower should make a good showing this year, peaking the morning of May 6. This meteor shower has an unusual “soft peak,” meaning that many meteors can be spotted several days before and after the 6th; many may find it convenient to schedule meteor watching for the weekend, a night or two before the peak. You may be able to spot a couple dozen meteors an hour from areas with clear dark skies. Meteors can appear in any part of the sky and you don’t need any special equipment to view them; just find an area away from lights, lie down on a comfy lawn chair or blanket, relax, and patiently look up. These brief bright streaks are caused by Earth moving through the stream of fine dust particles left by the passage of Comet Halley. While we have to wait another 43 years for the famous comet grace our skies once more, we are treated to this beautiful cosmic postcard every year.
While you’re up meteor watching, try to find a delightful naked eye star cluster: the Coma Star Cluster (aka Melotte 111) in the small constellation of Coma Berenices. It can be spotted after sunset in the east and for almost the entire night during the month of May. Look for it inside the area of the sky roughly framed between the constellations of Leo, Boötes, and Ursa Major. The cluster’s sparkly members are also known as “Berenice’s Hair” in honor of Egyptian Queen Berenices II’s sacrifice of her lovely tresses. Binoculars will bring out even more stars in this large young cluster.
May marks the 50th anniversary of the Lunar Module’s test run by the Apollo 10 mission! On May 22, 1969, NASA astronauts Thomas Safford and Eugene Cernan piloted the Lunar Module - nicknamed “Snoopy” - on a test descent towards the lunar surface. Undocking from “Charlie Brown” - the Command Module, piloted by John Young – they descended to 47,400 feet above the surface of the Moon before returning safely to the orbiting Command Module. Their success paved the way for the first humans to land on the Moon later that year with Apollo 11. Look for the Moon on the morning of May 22, before or after dawn, and contemplate what it must have felt like to hover mere miles above the lunar surface. You’ll also see the bright giant planets Saturn and Jupiter on either side of the Moon before sunrise. When will humans travel to those distant worlds?
You can catch up on all of NASA’s current and future missions at nasa.gov
A view of Apollo 10’s Lunar Module from the Command Module as it returned from maneuvers above the lunar surface. Photo Credit: NASA Source: http://bit.ly/apollo10view
Try to spot the Coma Star Cluster! Image created with assistance from Stellarium
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 NASA Night Sky Network 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. Wednesday’s program looks at where the bright planets are along with finder charts.
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.