Through most of the 20th century amateur astronomers were limited to a narrow range of activities dominated by telescope building and visual observing.

Thanks to advances in technology, an explosion of interest in astronomy and a large selection of affordable off the shelf equipment, 21st century amateurs can find themselves overwhelmed by the many avenues of participation and exploration open to them.  Helping today’s amateurs navigate this labyrinth of options is a crucial service today’s astronomical clubs and societies provide.   The Minnesota Astronomical Society addresses this need in a number of ways.  One of our most effective (and popular) approaches is our ”Special Interest Groups”, or SIG’s.

What’s a SIG?  Simply put, it is a group of members who join  together to focus on a particular area of interest or to work jointly on a project.  Of course, members can always meet on their own without creating a SIG, but forming a group offers special advantages. SIGs are promoted at general meetings, through our monthly newsletter and via the Society’s web page and Discussion Forum.

Our SIGs address a broad range of needs and interests — from people just beginning their lifetime journey of astronomical exploration to amateurs pursuing advanced astronomical research.  In the SIG Directory below, you’ll find information regarding all our SIGs and the individuals to contact for information to join a SIG.

SIG  Directory

Below are the current MAS Special Interest Groups (SIGs). Click on the SIG name or image for additional information.

Beginner’s SIG

Beginner’s or B-SIG: Whether you are just getting started in astronomy or have years of experience, the B-SIG has valuable information to share. From learning the skies and what to look for, to purchasing and getting the most out of your telescope and its accessories.The B-SIG has regularly scheduled meetings, usually at one of the Twin Cities public libraries, but occasionally we’ll take a ”field-trip” to one of our observing sites. We can help you learn how to utilize your scope better as well as introduce you to the MAS facilities and equipment available to our members.

Check the MAS Event Calendar and / or the B-SIG Discussion Forum for the next B-SIG meeting and location.


Imaging SIG

The purpose of the group is two-fold, to help MAS members to get started in astrophotography or CCD imaging and to help each other and socialize in our astrophotography efforts.With the advent of digital cameras, virtually anyone can become an astrophotographer. Whether your interest is wide field images, planetary or deep sky objects we can show you how to get quality images using your own setup or utilizing the incredible equipment of the MAS.

Check the MAS Event Calendar and / or the Imaging SIG Discussion Forum for any upcoming imaging events.


Observing SIG

Astronomy, in the purest sense, begins with putting your eye to the eyepiece and observing. The Observing SIG provides MAS members with the encouragement, skills and support needed to complete observing projects of all kinds.

Observing SIG activities can be as simple as participating in a star party, learning what to look for and how to find objects in the night sky as well as helpful hints, starting an observing list, logging observations, observing accessories, etc.Check the MAS Event Calendar and / or the Observing SIG Discussion Forum for the next meeting or event.


Radio Astronomy SIG

Radio astronomy is a subfield of astronomy that studies celestial objects at radio frequencies. If your interested in listening to Jupiter’s radio emissions or are looking for ET, the Radio Astronomy SIG may be the place to start.

While this SIG is currently less active than others, be sure to check the MAS Event Calendar for any upcoming events or visit the Radio Astronomy SIG Discussion Forum to post any questions you may have.


Research SIG

The MAS Research SIG was formed so members could discuss, plan and engage in research projects, including variable photometry, asteroid astrometry and photometry and low-resolution spectroscopy. The purpose of the Research SIG is to discuss and participate in astronomy as a science and to think about what comprises the pretty pictures.While this SIG is currently less active than others, as most activity takes place on the Discussion Forum, be sure to check the MAS Event Calendar for any upcoming events or visit the Research SIG Discussion Forum to post any questions you may have.


Road Trip SIG

Planning an astronomical trip and looking for company?  Attending a national or regional star party, eclipse trip, observatory tour, etc.   Research and organize trips through the MAS Road Trip SIG.

Check the MAS Event Calendar and / or the Road Trip SIG Discussion Forum for any upcoming events.


Amateur Telescope Making (ATM) SIG

The ATM SIG is an informal, loose-knit group of MAS members who are interested in amateur telescope making. Some of the members are active glass pushers while others may only contemplating building a scope from readily available parts.

The SIG exists for three main purposes: first, to encourage and facilitate amateur telescope making in Minnesota, and provide workshops, demonstrations and other resources toward this end. Second, to create a venue for members to obtain guidance and support during their telescope making endeavors, and finally to swap and share stuff, and possibly acquire supplies in bulk.

Check the MAS Event Calendar and / or the ATM Discussion Forum for the next ATM event.


Personal Observatory SIG

Do you have an observatory or are planning one, this is a place to discuss personal observatories, their design, construction and operations.

Visit the Personal Observatory SIG Discussion Forum to share your experiences or ask questions about your observatory project.