Check out the link above for our 2017 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 16, Saturday

Leland Heritage Festival – 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Fishtown, Leland MI.

Star Party: 9 p.m. - NMC Rogers Observatory.
If it's clear: Saturn, dark skies – summer Milky Way.

September 23, Saturday

Star Party at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Dune Climb 9 – 11 p.m. Saturn and summer Milky Way.

September 28, Thursday

Star Party at Traverse Area District Library, Central Library at Woodmere 7 – 9 p.m. Saturn and the Moon.

September 30, Saturday

Acme Fall Festival 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. – Flintfields Horse Park 6535 Bates Rd, Acme. Featured: Views of the Sun, exhibits.

October 6, Friday

GTAS Monthly Meeting: 8 p.m. - NMC Rogers Observatory.

Program: Bob Moler: Remembering Cassini

Star Party: 9 p.m. - NMC Rogers Observatory.
If it's clear: The Moon and Saturn.

October 21, Saturday

Star Party at 47th anniversary of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore: 8 – 10 p.m. Dune Climb (This is a change in location)

October 28, Saturday

International Observe the Moon Night: 7 p.m. - ? 200 block of Front Street in front of Orvis Streamside. Only if it’s clear.

November 3, Friday

GTAS Monthly Meeting: 8 p.m. - NMC Rogers Observatory.

Program: Don Flegel: The Sun

Star Party: 9 p.m. - NMC Rogers Observatory.
If it's clear: The Moon and Saturn.

December, Friday

GTAS Monthly Meeting: 8 p.m. - NMC Rogers Observatory.

Program: Bob Moler: Prescientific Cosmologies

Star Party: 9 p.m. - NMC Rogers Observatory.
If it's clear: The Moon and Saturn.


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!

Cassini Says Goodbye

By Teagan Wall

On September 15th, the Cassini spacecraft will have its final mission. It will dive into the planet Saturn, gathering information and sending it back to Earth for as long as possible. As it dives, it will burn up in the atmosphere, much like a meteor. Cassini’s original mission was supposed to last four years, but it has now been orbiting Saturn for more than 13 years!

The spacecraft has seen and discovered so many things in that time. In 2010, Cassini saw a massive storm in Saturn’s northern hemisphere. During this storm, scientists learned that Saturn’s atmosphere has water vapor, which rose to the surface. Cassini also looked at the giant storm at Saturn’s north pole. This storm is shaped like a hexagon. NASA used pictures and other data from Cassini to learn how the storm got its six-sided shape.

Cassini also looked at some of Saturn’s moons, such as Titan and Enceladus. Titan is Saturn’s largest moon. Cassini carried a lander to Titan. The lander, called Huygens, parachuted from Cassini down to the surface of the moon. It turns out, Titan is quite an exciting place! It has seas, rivers, lakes and rain. This means that in some ways, Titan’s landscape looks a bit like Earth. However, its seas and rivers aren’t made of water—they’re made of a chemical called methane.

Cassini also helped us learn that Saturn’s moon Enceladus is covered in ice. Underneath the ice is a giant liquid ocean that covers the whole moon. Tall geysers from this ocean spray out of cracks in the ice and into space, like a giant sneeze. Cassini flew through one of these geysers. We learned that the ocean is made of very salty water, along with some of the chemicals that living things need.

If there is life on Enceladus, NASA scientists don’t want life from Earth getting mixed in. Tiny living things may have hitched a ride on Cassini when it left Earth. If these germs are still alive, and they land on Enceladus, they could grow and spread. We want to protect Enceladus, so that if we find life, we can be sure it didn’t come from Earth. This idea is called planetary protection.

Scientists worry that when Cassini runs out of fuel, it could crash into Titan or Enceladus. So years ago, they came up with a plan to prevent that from happening. Cassini will complete its exploration by diving into Saturn—on purpose. The spacecraft will burn up and become part of the planet it explored. During its final plunge, Cassini will tell us more about Saturn’s atmosphere, and protect the moons at the same time. What an exciting way to say goodbye!

To learn more about Saturn, check out NASA Space Place: https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/all-about-saturn

Caption: This image of the hexagonal storm on Saturn’s north pole was taken by Cassini in 2013. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute


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.


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.

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.

Thank You!

Updated: 09/13/17 09:17:44 PM