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To wonder if there is life outside of our solar system is the stuff of fantasy. To spend a unique evening with friends exploring galaxies and enjoying your own star party – now, that’s out-of-this-world fun! Fortunately, here in Montana, you don’t have to be a NASA scientist or travel far to go beyond our big sky. Idyllically situated along the banks of Canyon Ferry Lake sits the largest public-use telescope in Montana at the 2023 Beyond the Big Sky public observing nights.
An anticipated summer event, Beyond the Big Sky will take place for one weekend a month from June-August and offers friends, families, nature-lovers, avid stargazers, and everyone in between the chance to gaze at the wonders of the universe through some of Montana’s most sophisticated publicly-accessible telescopes. And that’s not an exaggeration! Home to three observatories and five world-class telescopes (read: “really large” and “crystal clear”), MLC is the largest astronomical park of its kind in the Northwestern United States. In other words, you should buy your event tickets now!
Starting at sunset each night, Beyond the Big Sky will begin with a special presentation from some of Montana’s leading astronomy experts, followed by what’s sure to be the most captivating tour of the night sky that you’ve ever seen. Using the park’s telescopes, attendees will get the chance to put their newfound knowledge into practice as they peer into the depths of distant galaxies, discover spectacular nebulae (a.k.a. Interstellar space), explore the intricacies of the milky way, identify surrounding planets, capture far-away star clusters, and so much more! Members of MLC’s staff and volunteers from the Helena Astronomical Society will also be available to answer questions and offer expert insight throughout the night.
2023 Beyond the Big Sky Event Dates:
June 23 & 24
The first two events of the summer will feature award-winning astronomer and Mars Society Observatory Director, Peter Detterline. Peter is an astronomy teacher at Montgomery County Community College and also teaches MLC’s online robotic telescope courses for teachers through Montana State University. Reserve your tickets.
July 21 & 22
Don’t miss Shawn Backbone, a member of southern Montana’s Apsáalooke/Crow Tribe, who will share Apsáalooke stories about the night sky. Shawn has served as a tribal officer and legislator, with a strong belief in empowerment and giving back to his community. Reserve your tickets.
August 11 & 12
The final two events will be led by astrophotographer and Director of the Emil Buehler Planetarium at Seminole State College of Florida, Derek Demeter. In addition to overseeing the Planetarium’s operations, Derek writes and produces all of its live, interactive shows. His work has been featured by NASA, Astronomy Magazine and other publications. Reserve your tickets.
Given the intimate nature and uniqueness of the event, each night’s attendance will be limited to 100 people, with advance ticket purchase required. To reserve your tickets and read more about the summer speaker lineup and what to expect, visit montanalearning.org.
Explore Montana Learning Center // The Montana Learning Center is an extraordinary organization whose goal is to teach and promote quality immersion experiences for all in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In addition to Beyond the Big Sky, MLC offers astronomy programs that give enthusiastic stargazers an inside look at what is above our Montana skies. These programs include youth summer camps, live and online learning opportunities for teachers, astronomy programs for students, and even the opportunity to book a private star party for you and your closest friends!