Category Featured Events

MAS September Monthly Meeting

The first billion years on Earth and Mars: A geologist’s perspective – Clark M. Johnson

Clark M. Johnson

Despite the likelihood of early habitability on both Earth and Mars, the geologic evolution of these two planets, and the rock record they preserve, is quite different. Plate tectonics on Earth played a central role in evolution of our biosphere, and yet has destroyed much of the early Earth rock record, creating great challenges for finding evidence for early life on Earth. Mars did not have Earth-style plate tectonics, but the evidence is clear that Mars was habitable very early in its history. Preservation of the early Mars geologic record is excellent, raising the possibility that it might contain evidence for the earliest life in the Solar System...

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Donald Park Star Party

2017 Donald Park Star Party

The Donald Park star party is a family friendly event at a lovely county park. This is a chance to see the stars and planets through many different telescopes and binoculars – bring your blanket or lawn chair and sit back later in the evening for a night of watching meteors.

Presentation for guests on meteor showers and planets by the Madison Astronomical Society before the stars come out. Sunset is about 8:08 pm, observing planets can begin about that time with fainter objects as it gets darker. Temps usually fall a bit after sunset so dress accordingly.

Donald Park of Dane County
1945 State Road 92, Mount Horeb, Wisconsin

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MAS August Monthly Meeting

Chasing Shadows: Planning for and Imaging ISS Transits of the Sun and Moon – Jeffrey E. Shokler

Jeffrey E. Shokler, August 2019 MAS monthly meeting speaker

How do you catch something travelling at 17,500 mph as it moves between you and a target that might be 92 million miles away (or maybe only 240,000 miles away)? Longtime MAS member and astrophotographer Jeffrey Shokler will show us how to plan for International Space Station transits of the Sun and Moon, and also about his recent experiences capturing images of those events. You’ll learn about on-line planning tools, strategies for the week before, day before, and day of in terms of positioning and set-up. Jeff will also share the approaches he has taken to both capturing and processing the transit data in order to create finished images of ISS transits.

About the Speaker:
Jeffrey E...

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MAS July Monthly Meeting

Observing Our Solar System – Martin Mika

Observing Our Solar System

The talk will outline the basics of our solar system: history, characteristics of the planets, how they move, and how to observe them with amateur telescopes. I will then also discuss some imaging techniques and touch on citizen science projects that can be undertaken by amateurs, with a few examples from some of the top planetary imagers around the world.

About the Speaker:
Martin Mika is a long time observer and astrophotographer and is the Observatory Director for the MAS.

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MAS June Monthly Meeting

The Milky Way and Its Dark Nebulae – Walter Piorkowski

Dark nebula against rich starfield


This talk covers how the Milky Way is portrayed in charts and atlases, how to plan for and observe dark nebula and how these objects are cataloged. I will also show a selection of my 2×3 degree fields of the DN and discuss the “low extinction” windows in the Milky Way.


About the Speaker:
Walter Piorkowski is an amateur telescope and instrument maker. He is the former President and member of the board (14 years) of the Chicago Astronomical Society and Alder Planetarium (Chicago), Evening Courses instructor 1972 – 1980. He was Technical Support Adviser to Oberlin College’s CUREA program at Mt. Wilson observatory. Walter also was an Astro-Physics Mount Assembly Supervisor for 28 years.

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MAS May Monthly Meeting

(Re)Inventing the Flat Earth” – Peter Sobol

Peter Sobol
Dr. Peter Sobol

A survey of the history of ideas about the shape of the Earth in Western Civilization with a focus on the nineteenth century, which saw both the rise of the Warfare hypothesis (which encouraged secularists to misrepresent medieval ideas) and the rise of the modern Flat Earth movement, concluding with a glance at the present state of that movement.

About the Speaker:

Peter Sobol has taught the history of science at Indiana University, Oklahoma University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. in addition to standard history of science he has taught courses on the history of pseudoscience and the occult, hence his abiding if morbid interest in the vagaries of human thought.

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MAS April Monthly Meeting

Historic Burnham Refrctor
Historic Burnham Refractor

April 2019 will bring a special meeting for the Madison Astronomical Society. Instead of our usual gathering at Space Place, we will meet instead at Sterling Hall on the UW-Madison Campus, where our very own Jim Lattis will give us a tour of some of the astronomy department’s historic facilities.

WHAT: The meeting in Sterling Hall will include a tour of the rooftop astronomy facilities, including the vintage Spitz optical/mechanical planetarium and the rooftop telescopes, including the historic Burnham telescope. Weather permitting we will observe with the Burnham refractor.

WHEN: will convene at 7:15 pm on Friday, April 12. Please plan to arrive around 7:00 since we will want to assemble before we start to move around inside Sterling Hall as a group.

WHERE:...

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MAS March Monthly Meeting

UW Collaboration on the Proposed NASA CAESAR Mission

Kyle Metzloff, Professor of Industrial Studies, University of Wisconsin-Platteville
Professor Kyle Metzloff

How did a 375 lb. iron weight cast by students at UW-Madison and UW-Platteville help the CAESAR Mission get off the ground and become one of two finalists in a NASA proposal? If selected, CAESAR, which stands for Comet Astrobiology Exploration Sample Return, would visit the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet and collect a small sample of its surface material. Led by Dr. Steve Squyres, principal investigator on NASA’s Mars exploration rovers, the device could grab at least a 100-gram sample from the nucleus of the comet and deliver it back to Earth in capsules to help demonstrate how the same materials contributed to early Earth.

The UW project entailed designing a shaped weight that had a similar radius at t...

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MAS February Monthly Meeting

Horseshoe (Photo by John Rummel)
Horseshoe (Photo by John Rummel)

Landscape Astrophotography
Presented by John Rummel

Have you been impressed (and envious) of the beautiful night landscape/sky shots you’ve seen floating around the internet? Do you wish that you could capture a breathtaking Milky Way vista above your favorite camping spot or mountain view? Odds are pretty good that you CAN do this, and that the camera that you own right now is capable of getting these shots. This presentation will show you how it’s done.

This talk will explore the photographic techniques necessary to capture thrilling and inspirational shots of the night sky with impressive terrestrial landscapes. The presentation will proceed in three parts:

1) Locating and choosing opportunities to shoot such scenes,
2) Camera settings, techniq...

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MAS January Monthly Meeting

Laurence Sromovsky ( UW Madison's Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC))
Dr. Larry Sromovsky
UW-Madison Space Science and Engineering Center

Killing the hurricane at the south pole of Saturn

Cassini observations show that Saturn’s polar regions contain giant cyclones and unusual cloud configurations, including dark eyes that bring to mind the eyes of earthly hurricanes. Both on Earth and on Saturn, these eyes are regions of reduced cloud cover resulting from descending motions. Cassini images of the south polar regions also showed that circular cloud bands at the edge of the eye cast very long shadows. This led to the conclusion that there were towering convective storms reaching into the stratosphere, producing eyewalls that were casting shadows, much like hurricanes on earth, but on a vastly larger scale...

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