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Last Updated:
October 10, 2013


On behalf of the Minnesota Astronomical Society, welcome to our web site!  Please accept our invitation and join us in our explorations of the cosmos, either as a visitor to one of our many events or as a member of the Society.

Over the past several years, MAS members have worked very hard to improve, expand and care for the facilities at all of our sites.  The number of public viewing opportunities have also expanded and been enhanced with new equipment and capabilities being utilized by our ever increasing membership and guests.

MAS Member Orientation - Saturday May 24, 2014

MAS Orientation meetings are intended to give new members a good idea of the benefits of being a member of the MAS - publications, discounts available, MAS meetings, Special Interest Groups, observing sites and more.

Meeting location Golden Valley Library, 830 Winnetka Ave. No., Golden Valley 55427

Start time - 10:30 am

CGO Virgo Venture - Friday May 30, 2014 (alt. May 31)

The MAS ''Virgo Venture'' is an star party dedicated to observing many of the brighter galaxies in the Virgo Cluster. The Virgo Cluster is a cluster of galaxies in the constellation Virgo. Comprising approximately 1300 (and possibly up to 2000) member galaxies The cluster forms the heart of the larger Virgo Supercluster, of which the Local Group is an outlying member.

Additional information and finder charts can be found on the MAS Virgo Venture webpage HERE

Planet Update (rev. May 5, 2014)

Mercury (magnitude –1.3) Mercury is 10 degrees above the horizon in the west-northwest evening sky and quickly gaining altitude. Mercury is very well placed for spring viewing. On May 24th Mercury reaches greatest elongation, attaining an altitude at sunset of nearly 18 degrees and will begin moving west towards the setting sun again. By the first week of June, Mercury will be more difficult to observe and will move to the morning sky on June 19.

This will be one of the best times ever to see Mercury. If you've ever wanted to see Mercury for yourself, this May is great time.

Venus (magnitude –4.0) is in the Southeast morning sky, currently 14 degrees above the horizon at sunrise and showing a gibbous phase of 16 arc seconds in diameter. Over the next several months Venus will be moving east towards the rising sun until it reaches superior conjunction on October 23, becoming an evening object again. Watch for the very close conjunction with Jupiter on the morning of August 17 and 18 when the two planets will be less than 1 degree from each other.

Mars, (magnitude -1.0) currently 14 arc seconds in diameter at an altitude of 32 degrees in the southeast at sunset. Mars is past opposition and just beginning to shrink in apparent size as we move farther away from the slower moving planet. Get out and see Mars soon while it is still one of the better evening objects to see.

This is the best Mars will be this year and the closest it's been to the Earth since 2007. Mars won't be this close to us again for more than 2 years (April of 2016).

Jupiter, (magnitude –2.0) is past opposition, rising before sunset and visible until it sets about 1:00 am. Jupiter is very well placed for evening viewing right now and over the next few months will be the main planet to see. Jupiter's apparent disk size is 35 arc-seconds. By mid July Jupiter will start to become washed out by the setting sun as it approaches superior conjunction on July 24 and moves to the morning sky.

Saturn , (magnitude 0.0) is nearly at opposition (May 8th) and will be well placed for viewing most of the night. Saturn's apparent disk size is 19 arc-minutes and will remain a prominent evening object for the summer and into the fall. About the time we'll lose Jupiter to the glare of twilight, Saturn will be at it's best for the year.

Uranus at 5.9 magnitude, is in the morning sky, rising before 5:00 am. By mid May Uranus will be more than 15 degrees above the horizon at sunrise at it works its way west. By the end of July Uranus will rise before midnight and will reach opposition on October 7. Uranus will spend the year in the constellation Pisces

Neptune at magnitude 7.9, is also in the morning sky, rising about 3:30 am. Nearly 40 degrees to the west of Uranus, Neptune is 22 degrees above the horizon in the Southeast at sunrise. Neptune is also moving slowly to the west, rising earlier each night. By mid June Neptune will rise before midnight and on August 29 reach opposition. Look for it in the constellation of Aquarius throughout the year.

Star Party Update

Next Eagle Lake Observatory Public Nights

The ''All-Weather'' Public Star Parties at the Eagle Lake Observatory:

Saturday, May 3rd
Saturday, May 10th Astronomy Day
Saturday, May 24th

Public Star Parties at the Eagle Lake Observatory usually begin at 7 pm and last until 10 pm or possibly later. Public Observing Nights are held whether it is clear or cloudy, with the possible exception for hazardous weather conditions** (see below). There is no fee for attending and members, guests and visitors are all invited. Please note that Carver County parks may charge a nominal parking fee. For additional information or directions, click the link below or visit the Eagle Lake Observatory web page.

Upcoming Star Parties at Cherry Grove (CGO) & LLCC

Friday/Saturday May 2nd/3rd: CGO & LLCC
The weather is pretty 'iffy' for both locations. 50% or more cloud cover is predicated with seeing and transparency below average. The predictions are better for Saturday night. Consider checking the weather and discussion forums before venturing out. Regarding LLCC: Rooms 1-3 will be available for use by MAS members. Campus lights will be on due to the fact that there will be a quilter’s retreat in residence. No driving will be allowed on the observation field as the area is wet due to all the precipitation.

Friday/Saturday May 23rd/24th: CGO & LLCC
Friday, May 30th: VIRGO VENTURE at CGO; Star Party at LLCC

If you are planning to spend time observing at any of our observing sites - Casby, CGO, or ELO - consider placing a note on the observing forum (HERE) to let others know of your intentions. Who knows, you may get visitors!

With the exception of the Messier Marathon, Virgo Venture, and the Mini-Messier Marathon, all MAS star parties at Cherry Grove and LLCC are no longer officially called ''ON'' or ''OFF'' based on the weather. Individual members are expected to determine for themselves whether or not the weather will be appropriate for observing.

For Additional information on our observing sites, visit the MAS Facilities page HERE or select a link below.

Directions to Eagle Lake Observatory and the Onan Observatory
Directions to J. J. Casby Observatory
Directions to Cherry Grove
Directions to Metcalf
Directions to LLCC

Please note, all Eagle Lake Observatory public star parties are ‘’all weather’’ events (unless otherwise noted). Even if it is cloudy, someone will be there to show a video, give a presentation, give a tour of the observatory or answer any astronomy questions you may have. However, there may be a need to cancel due to **hazardous weather conditions such as severe thunderstorm, tornadoes and/or snow storms. If any of these conditions are threatening, please check the MAS website homepage and/or the MAS info line at 952-467-2426, after 4:00 pm the day of the event for cancellation notices.

Unlike Eagle Lake Observatory Public Observing Night events, attendance at MAS Star Parties at Cherry Grove and LLCC is entirely optional. As a result there could be dozens of people also with you at the star party, or there is a remote chance you could find yourself alone! MAS Star Parties at Cherry Grove are generally Friday night events, with Saturday being the backup night. LLCC star parties are both Friday and Saturday night. All MAS Star Parties are ''clear weather'' events and would be cancelled if cloudy.

The use of Eagle Lake, Belwin and Metcalf are left up to the observer's discretion.

Click on Wunderground box below for Minneapolis weather forecast.

Clear Sky Charts for MAS Observing Sites. Click banner for added detail.

Eagle Lake                  

Cherry Grove          



Next Meeting

June 5th at Fairview Community Center, 7:00 - 9:00 pm

Speaker: Bill Volna
Topic: TBD


Meeting Location: Fairview Community Center
1910 County Road B West - ''Great Room''
Roseville, MN 55113

Celestial Events


PayPal Option for New or Renewing Members

New or renewing members can now use PayPal to pay their dues.  Visit the membership section of the web (http://www.mnastro.org/membership/join.htm) or click on any 'Join the MAS' link to take advantage of this easy-to-use feature.

MAS Joins JPL's 'Night Sky Network'

The Minnesota Astronomical Society is pleased to announce its acceptance into the 'Night Sky Network'.  Visit the MAS outreach page (www.mnastro.org/outreach) for details.


MAS Merchandise

Check out all the great MAS merchandise & support your Society in style!


Next Star Party

Baylor Regional Park




Check back day of the star party for 'go / no-go' information.

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