I learned about Montana Space Grant Consortium through the Montana Learning Center which is home to three different sky observatories. One observatory is specifically used for looking at objects in our solar system such as the planets, moon, and sun. The second observatory is referred to as a visual observatory. In this observatory you get to physically look through the telescope. You are able to look through the telescope day or night and you must manually adjust this telescope, unlike the other telescopes at the Montana Learning Center, which are robotic. This observatory was my favorite! The third observatory is called a deep sky observatory. In this observatory you get to look at far away objects deep in space such as nebulae and galaxies. This observatory was my second favorite because you truly get to see the magic of space and you get a genuine feel for just how small we really are! All three observatories have a roll off roof which protects the telescopes and equipment inside.
The Montana Learning Center is located on Canyon Ferry Lake near Helena, MT. Our instructor, Ryan Hannahoe, informed us that “By having the observatories overlook the lake, the water from the lake sucks out the heat of the atmosphere, creating a cooler atmosphere and ideal conditions, allowing the telescopes a better view of the night sky as well as allowing them to work at optimum efficiency.” This was something I didn’t previously know and hadn’t considered, and it piqued my interests.
I would have to say my biggest take away from this workshop was realizing that this is not the only workshop that the Montana Space Grant Consortium or Montana Learning Center has to offer. In fact, they have workshop’s all year long with all different kinds of educational opportunities for students across Montana! Get out there and check out what opportunities they have coming up that may interest you!