By Patrick Hasenbuhler
Special to The PREVIEW
Do you have a telescope in your closet or think you may want to buy one to view the incredibly beautiful night skies of Pagosa? Or, perhaps you’ve wondered about that bright star that can be seen in the evening and early morning sky? The San Juan Stargazers Astronomy Club can help you.
At the next club meeting on Feb. 25, we will be looking at the three basic types of telescopes used to view the night sky. They are: the lensed or refractor (first used to view the night sky by Galileo), the mirror or reflector (invented by Sir Isaac Newton) and one that is becoming more and more popular, the Schmidt Cassegrain (a combination of the two). You do not have to be a member of the San Juan Stargazers or own a telescope to come to the meeting. Everyone between the ages of 6 and 96-plus who wants to learn more about astronomy is welcome.
The San Juan Stargazers meet the fourth Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. in the Pagosa Springs Visitor Center on Hot Springs Boulevard.
We will also discuss the basics of how and where to look for those beautiful gems in the night sky that can only be seen with the aid of a telescope or binoculars.
So, dig out that telescope that was given to you so many Christmases or birthdays ago and bring it along so we can help you get on your way to experiencing the beautiful night skies of Pagosa.
As always, when viewing outdoors, dress in layers and dress warmly with a hat, gloves and really warm boots. Towards the end of our meeting, we will go outside to practice what we have learned.
The San Juan Stargazers also help with the Chimney Rock Night Sky and Moon Viewing Plus programs, where telescopes are set up in the upper parking lot of Chimney Rock National Monument after an introductory astronomy program. Volunteers are always needed not only to use the four CRIA-owned telescopes, but for general organization and “crowd-control.”
By the way, that beautiful, bright star you may see in the early evening and all through the night until early morning is not a star, but the planet Jupiter. If the night sky is clear, we can show you Jupiter’s four Galilean moons and other wonders on Feb. 25.
The San Juan Stargazers are part of the Astronomical League, which includes clubs from all over the U.S. We have a great website, www.SanJuanStargazers.com, as well as an email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, and a club phone number, 335-8286, to help communicate with the public. Hope to see you soon.