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 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!

Observe the Moon

By Jane Houston Jones and Jessica Stoller-Conrad

This year’s International Observe the Moon Nightis on Oct. 20. Look for astronomy clubs and science centers in your area inviting you to view the Moon at their star parties that evening!

On Oct. 20, the 11-day-old waxing gibbous Moon will rise in the late afternoon and set before dawn. Sunlight will reveal most of the lunar surface and the Moon will be visible all night long. You can observe the Moon’s features whether you’re observing with the unaided eye, through binoculars or through a telescope.

Here are a few of the Moon’s features you might spot on the evening of October 20:

Sinus Iridum—Latin for “Bay of Rainbows”—is the little half circle visible on the western side of the Moon near the lunar terminator—the line between light and dark. Another feature, the Jura Mountains, ring the Moon’s western edge. You can see them catch the morning Sun.Just south of the Sinus Iridum you can see a large, flat plain called the Mare Imbrium. This feature is called a mare—Latin for “sea”—because early astronomers mistook it for a sea on Moon’s surface. Because the Moon will be approaching full, the large craters Copernicus and Tycho will also take center stage. Copernicus is 58 miles (93 kilometers) across. Although its impact crater rays—seen as lines leading out from the crater—will be much more visible at Full Moon, you will still be able to see them on October 20. Tycho, on the other hand, lies in a field of craters near the southern edge of the visible surface of the Moon. At 53 miles (85 kilometers) across, it’s a little smaller than Copernicus. However, its massive ray system spans more than 932 miles (1500 kilometers)!

And if you’re very observant on the 20th, you’ll be able to check off all six of the Apollo lunar landing site locations, too!

In addition to the Moon, we’ll be able to observe two meteor showers this month: the Orionids and the Southern Taurids. Although both will have low rates of meteors, they’ll be visible in the same part of the sky.

The Orionids peak on Oct. 21, but they are active from Oct. 16 to Oct. 30. Start looking at about 10 p.m. and you can continue to look until 5 a.m. With the bright moonlight you may see only five to 10 swift and faint Orionids per hour.

If you see a slow, bright meteor, that’s from the Taurid meteor shower. The Taurids radiate from the nearby constellation Taurus, the Bull. Taurids are active from Sept. 10 through Nov. 20, so you may see both a slow Taurid and a fast Orionid piercing your sky this month. You’ll be lucky to see five Taurids per hour on the peak night of Oct. 10.

You can also still catch the great lineup of bright planets in October, with Jupiter, Saturn and Mars lining up with the Moon again this month. And early birds can even catch Venus just before dawn!

You can find out more about International Observe the Moon Night at https://moon.nasa.gov/observe.

Caption: This image shows some of the features you might see if you closely observe the Moon. The stars represent the six Apollo landing sites on the Moon. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University (modified by 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: 09/25/18 01:55:43 PM