Astronomy Discussion Forums & Special Interest Groups

Connect with other members and friends of the MAS through online astronomy discussion forums, ranging in topic from general astronomy to space exploration. There are also a number of special interest groups centered around specialized topics.

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What is

a special interest group?

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 options is a service that astronomical clubs and societies provide. The MAS addresses this need in a number of ways. One of our most effective (and popular) approaches is our Special Interest Groups.

A Special Interest Group 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 group, but forming a group offers special advantages.

Special Interest Group Directory

Our Special Interest Groups address a broad range of needs and interests — from people just beginning their lifetime journey of astronomical exploration to amateurs pursuing advanced astronomical research. 

Beginner’s Special Interest Group

Monthly winter season presentations and hands-on observing sessions in nice weather!

Whether you are just getting started in astronomy or have years of experience, the Beginner’s Special Interest Group has valuable information to share – from learning the skies and what to look for to purchasing and getting the most out of your telescope. This group has regularly scheduled meetings, usually at one of the Twin Cities public libraries, ZOOM,  and occasionally will take a field trip to an MAS observing site. We can help you learn how to utilize your scope better as well as introduce you to the MAS facilities and equipment available to members.

View the events calendar or Beginner’s Special Interest Group Discussion Forum for the next meeting and location.

Imaging Special Interest Group

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 MAS equipment.

View the events calendar or Imaging Special Interest Group Discussion Forum for upcoming evnets.

Observing Special Interest Group

Astronomy begins with putting your eye to the eyepiece and observing. The Observing Special Interest Group provides members with the encouragement, skills, and support needed to complete observing projects of all kinds.

Observing Special Interest Group 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 astronomical observations, observing accessories, and more.

Check the events calendar or Observing Special Interest Group Discussion Forum for the next meeting or event. 

Radio Astronomy Special Interest Group

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

While this group is currently less active than others, view the events calendar for upcoming events or visit the Radio Astronomy Special Interest Group Discussion Forum to post questions.

Research Special Interest Group

The Research Special Interest Group 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 Special Interest Group is to discuss and participate in astronomy as a science and to think about what comprises the pretty pictures.

While this group is currently less active than others, as most activity takes place on the Discussion Forum, be sure to view the events calendar for upcoming events or visit the Research Special Interest Group Discussion Forum to post questions.

Road Trip Special Interest Group

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

View the events calendar or visit the Road Trip Special Interest Group Discussion Forum for upcoming events.

Amateur Telescope Making (ATM) Special Interest Group

The ATM Special Interest Group is an informal group of members interested in amateur telescope making. Some of the members are active glass pushers, while others may only contemplate building a scope from available parts.

The group exists for three main purposes: first, to encourage and facilitate amateur telescope making in Minnesota and provide workshops, demonstrations, and other resources. 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.

View the events calendar or the ATM Discussion Forum for the next ATM event.

Personal Observatory Special Interest Group

If 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 Special Interest Group Discussion Forum to share your experiences or ask questions about your project.