Join HAS to "Meet Your Telescope"
Did Santa bring you or your household a new telescope for Christmas? We've had a few clear nights since Christmas and about now you might be feeling completely overwhelmed about using this wonderful new gift. Collimation? What magnification should I use? How do I align the finder scope, or even what is the finder scope?
If so, please bring your new telescope and join the Helena Astronomical Society for "Meet Your Telescope" on Saturday, January 7th beginning at 3:30pm in the large community room of the Lewis & Clark Library at 120 S. Last Chance Gulch in Helena.
We'll show you how to assemble your telescope, how to align the finder scope, what eyepieces to use and which ones not to use, how to know if you need to collimate your telescope and if you do how to use simple tools to achieve its optimal viewing. We'll practice all of this using an artificial star inside the Library. Then, if we are lucky enough to have clear skies, we'll go outside when the Library closes at 5pm and view the Moon at First Quarter, Venus, Mars, the Pleiades and possibly Orion's Nebula and the Andromeda Galaxy!
Our members have decades of combined telescope use. We can remove the mystery around the set up, use and upkeep of your new telescope so you can use it to explore the mystery of our visible universe. We hope to see you there!
Join HAS to Watch the Super Moon Rise over the Mountains
Monday, November 14, 2016 begininng at 5:30pm
Please join the Helena Astronomical Society to see the biggest Super Moon since 1948 rise over the mountains to the east through our telescopes at the Mt Helena City Park and Trail head Monday, November 14, 2016 beginning at 5:30 pm.
The beauty of the Super Moon is in contrast to our landscape--only then can we see and appreciate that it truly is much bigger than normal. Watching any Full Moon rise over a mountain range through a telescope is a breathtaking sight. We first see where the Moon will crest the mountain by watching the light from the Moon behind the mountain. As moon rise approaches that spot gets brighter and brighter until we finally see the very first edge of the Moon above the mountain. At first it's only a thin thumbnail of light but as our Earth rotates we watch the Moon in all its glory appear to rise through our telescope's field of view and in short order clears free of the mountain and into clear space.
Please check out http://www.helena-astronomical-society.org for last minute details.
With clear skies, we are in for a visual treat!
Join HAS for International Observe the Moon Night!
Saturday, October 8, 2016 at 8pm
Please join The Helena Astronomical Society in our celebration of this year's International Observe the Moon Night! This annual event is sponsored by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI), the Lunar and Planetary Institute and local astronomy clubs worldwide to encourage observation of Earth's Moon.
Our local event will be held on Saturday, October 8 beginning at 8pm at the Mt Helena City Park parking lot. We will be able to observe our Moon at First Quarter, a great time to view the Moon through a telescope. Half of the visible Moon will be in daylight, the other half in darkness. The line separating the two halves--the terminator--is razor sharp. On the lit side we will be able to see both Mare Serenitasis or Sea of Serentity and Mare Tranquillitatis or Sea of Tranquility, site of the historic Apollo 11 first manned landing on the Moon.
The terminator crosses craters large and small and we should be able to see the very tips of tall mountains brilliantly lit by our Sun floating above inky blackness below.
In addition to observing our Moon, we will also be able to see Saturn, its glorious rings and several of its moons, Mars, and as the evening wears on and the Moon slips lower and lower toward the western horizon, many deep space objects including the Andromeda Galaxy.
Early October brings chilly nights back to Montana so don't forget to dress warmly, including hat and gloves.
Our local event is, of course, weather dependent so please check the HAS web site if there is any doubt about the weather.
With Clear Skies we hope to see you there! UPDATE: It looks like we're getting intermittant clouds this evening, BUT at least ONE of our members will still be up there with a telescope anyway...just in case there's a clearing! Maybe a few other of us will be up there as well, with a few more viewing instruments. If it looks like there's a clearing around the moon, we'll get a chance to see some cool stuff on it.
Join HAS for "A Tour of the Outer Planets"
Saturday, June 4, 2016 at 9:30 pm
The Helena Astronomical Society will be hosting a public viewing Saturday, June 4 beginning at 9:30pm at the Mt Helena City Park parking lot.
The focus of this viewing will be "A Tour of the Outer Planets" and will feature Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Mars has just passed opposition, the point in its orbit where it is directly away from the Sun as seen from Earth. It is also the closest Mars has been to us in quite a few years. Mars rises right around sunset and will be visible all night long. With good viewing conditions we might be able to see the polar ice caps and possibly even clouds or dust storms above the surface of the Red Planet.
Jupiter is currently rising in the early afternoon and is dropping below the western horizon about 2am so at dark it will be a fine target in the southwestern sky. Jupiter is always a delight to observe even through a small telescope or pair of binoculars. We will be able to see all four of the Galilean moons and early on we might be able to see the Great Red Spot before Jupiter's rotation moves it out of sight around 11pm.
Saturn is one day past its opposition, also rising around sunset and visible all night long. This should be the best viewing we will get for Saturn this year. Saturn's most famous feature is its giant ring system and they are a wonder to see through a telescope. On a night with good viewing the rings are clearly delineated into bands and the gap between the rings and the planet is sharp and very dark. We should also be able to see 4 and possibly 5 of Saturn's many moons, including Titan, the only moon in our solar system that is known to have an atmosphere of its own.
June 4 is also New Moon so it's possible that we will be able to turn our telescopes onto several Deep Sky Objects including the Andromeda Galaxy.
When you join us don't forget that it can be quite chilly in early June at night so be prepared to bring a warm coat, hat and gloves. Binoculars and spotting scopes are also welcome--we'll be glad to show you what you can see with your own gear.
A public viewing is highly weather dependent so if there is any doubt about the weather please check the HAS web site at helena-astronomical-society.org for the latest weather and event status. We hope to see you at our Tour of the Outer Planets, with Clear Skies, of course!