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| May 2022 |
Montana Learning Center to Host Stargazing Nights at State’s Largest Observatory
For three nights this summer, the Montana Learning Center at Canyon Ferry Lake will open its state-of-the-art observatory park to the public. The events will begin at sunset with a presentation from one of the Center’s expert astronomers, followed by a tour of the night sky using the site’s world-class telescopes.
The first event on June 24 features astronomer and night-sky photographer Shane Mayer-Gawlik. The Colorado native has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics, and did his undergraduate research on the eclipsing binary star known as Algol. Mayer-Gawlik’s nightscape photography blends multiple long-exposure images to create stunning, highly detailed photographs, which he uses for educational outreach, dark-sky preservation efforts, and astronomy instruction.
On July 23, the MLC executive director, Ryan Hannahoe, will lead the talk and astronomical tour. Hannahoe has been the driving force in building the MLC’s Mike & Lynn Rice Astronomical Park for the Sciences and the Arts. During college, he worked at New Mexico Skies Remote Observatories and interned at NASA, where he worked on the James Webb Space Telescope – the successor to Hubble. His astronomical photography has been featured in NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day and the Smithsonian.
The final event on August 5 features professional astronomer and observatory director for the Mars Society Peter Detterline. He operates two telescopes, a solar observatory, and a robotic observatory. For 35 years, Detterline was the Director of the Boyertown Planetarium, and recently received the prestigious Thomas Brennan Award for exceptional achievement in teaching astronomy. He teaches college students and co-teaches MLC’s online robotic telescope courses offered through Montana State University.
Space at the events is limited, and advance ticket purchase is required. Tickets are $15 per person, per event. Attendees must be 10 years old or older. Events will be held rain or shine, with night-sky observing being weather-permitting.
Beyond the Big Sky is sponsored by the Montana Department of Commerce, Discover Magazine, Astronomy Magazine, Visit Southwest Montana, Visit Helena Montana, and the MLC.
The Montana Learning Center at Canyon Ferry Lake offers youth summer camps in a variety of STEM fields, teacher learning opportunities, and the state’s premier astronomy program, featuring the largest public-use telescope in Montana. Montana Learning Center and Montana State University partner to facilitate NASA’s Northwest Earth & Space Science Pathway in Montana, an outreach effort to strengthen aerospace education and outreach. The Center boasts a picturesque lakeside setting, which is ideal for exploring Montana’s geology and night sky.