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

June 23rd, Saturday

Star Party: 4 – 6 p.m. and 9 – 11 p.m. - Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Dune Climb. Solar viewing in the afternoon. Venus until about 10:30, 85% illuminated gibbous Moon, Jupiter (Twilight)

July 6th, Friday

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

Program: Joe Brooks – All about meteorites.

Star Party: 9 p.m. - NMC Rogers Observatory.
If it's clear: Venus, Moon, Jupiter

July 14th, Saturday

Star Party: 4 – 6 p.m. and 9 – 11 p.m. - Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Dune Climb. Solar viewing in the afternoon. Venus until about 10:30, Jupiter, Saturn (Twilight)

July 20th, Friday

Star Party: 8:30 p.m. - 11 p.m. - Betsie Valley District Library, Thompsonville. 8:30 p.m. talk on Mars; 9:30 If it's clear: Moon, Jupiter, Saturn (Twilight) New!

July 21st, Saturday

Star Party: 9 p.m. - NMC Rogers Observatory.
If it's clear: Venus, Moon, Jupiter (Twilight)

August 3rd, Friday

Star Party: 9 p.m. - NMC Rogers Observatory.
If it's clear: Venus, Moon, Jupiter

August 10th, 17th, 24th Fridays

Friday Night Live: 5:30 p.m. to whenever. 200 Block of Front St., Traverse City. Note: the official end is 9 p.m., however we will keep observing the planets and Moon later if it is clear.

August 11th, Saturday

Star Party: 4 – 6 p.m. and 9 – 11 p.m. - Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Thoreson Farm, Part of the Port Oneida Fair. Solar Viewing afternoon, Evening: Venus early, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars late. Dark after 10 p.m. with Perseid meteors and the wonders of the Milky Way.

August 18th, Saturday

Star Party: 9 p.m. - NMC Rogers Observatory.
If it's clear: Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars.


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!

What Is the Asteroid Belt?

By Linda Hermans-Killiam

There are millions of pieces of rocky material left over from the formation of our solar system. These rocky chunks are called asteroids, and they can be found orbiting our Sun. Most asteroids are found between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. They orbit the Sun in a doughnut-shaped region of space called the asteroid belt.

Asteroids come in many different sizes—from tiny rocks to giant boulders. Some can even be hundreds of miles across! Asteroids are mostly rocky, but some also have metals inside, such as iron and nickel. Almost all asteroids have irregular shapes. However, very large asteroids can have a rounder shape.

The asteroid belt is about as wide as the distance between Earth and the Sun. It’s a big space, so the objects in the asteroid belt aren’t very close together. That means there is plenty of room for spacecraft to safely pass through the belt. In fact, NASA has already sent several spacecraft through the asteroid belt!

The total mass of objects in the asteroid belt is only about 4 percent the mass of our Moon. Half of this mass is from the four largest objects in the belt. These objects are named Ceres, Vesta, Pallas and Hygiea.

The dwarf planet Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt. However, Ceres is still pretty small. It is only about 587 miles across—only a quarter the diameter of Earth’s moon. In 2015, NASA's Dawn mission mapped the surface of Ceres. From Dawn, we learned that the outermost layer of Ceres—called the crust—is made up of a mixture of rock and ice.

The Dawn spacecraft also visited the asteroid Vesta. Vesta is the second largest object in the asteroid belt. It is 329 miles across, and it is the brightest asteroid in the sky. Vesta is covered with light and dark patches, and lava once flowed on its surface.

The asteroid belt is filled with objects from the dawn of our solar system. Asteroids represent the building blocks of planets and moons, and studying them helps us learn about the early solar system.

For more information about asteroids, visit: https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/asteroid

Caption: This image captured by the Dawn spacecraft is an enhanced color view of Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA


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: 06/17/18 02:53:50 PM