San Juan Stargazers celebrate fourth anniversary


By Joan Mieritz
Special to The PREVIEW

The San Juan Stargazers have had four wonderful years as a club in Pagosa Springs. Our biggest project is to present the educational programs and operate the telescopes for two star parties, one night sky and one moon view, each month from May to September at Chimney Rock National Monument.

These programs are highly rated by the guests and also by various travel sites that evaluate tourist activities. We are very pleased with each new high rating that comes in because we work hard to have the best-quality programs possible. We have served well over 2,000 people.

At each event, we may have five to 12 telescope operators who are considered “special” Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA) volunteers, augmented by the regular Chimney Rock volunteers who operate the visitor cabin, sign visitors in, help with numerous questions and monitor the visitors so they are safe, as well as educated and entertained. It is a big job, but worthwhile and fulfilling.

I invite you to consider joining this dedicated group of individuals with various skills and abilities who have discovered the absolute wonder of this geologic and historic place called Chimney Rock National Monument.

We have found a real secret to life: that the more you give, the more you seem to get and benefit yourself. It is impossible to study and observe our great universe without being changed for the better by the experience.

We also, as a club, are committed to making sure that the people of Pagosa and the surrounding area are educated about current astronomical events and can learn more about astronomy on a regular basis. We meet monthly at 7 p.m. on the fourth Thursday in the Pagosa Springs Visitor Center conference room to study and discuss interesting topics.

In the spring and fall, we take part in a National Astronomy Day to educate the public. We have joined the International Observe the Moon Night to be held around the world each fall. Our club has almost doubled in size and we have served hundreds of people. I invite you to join our wonderful group.

This Friday, the San Juan Stargazers and CRIA volunteers are gathering to celebrate our anniversary and another successful season at Chimney Rock. We will meet at 6 p.m. for a dinner of locally raised beef, pork, chicken and vegetables. It will be a feast. If you somehow missed getting an invitation, please call (303) 995-2888 for details. You are asked to RSVP to the same number as soon as possible, but only up until 4 p.m. on Friday. Those wanting to take a hike before dinner are asked to come at 5 p.m. Dinner will be served at 6 p.m. It is not a potluck, but BYOB, if you desire.

We are offering an opportunity to order beautiful 2017 astronomy calendars for only $10. They normally sell for much more at stores and proceeds will go to our scholarship fund. Call one of our two numbers by Nov. 1 to place your order.

The San Juan Stargazers are part of the Astronomical League, which includes clubs from all over the US. We have a great website,, as well as an email address, and a club phone number, 731-0186, to help communicate with the public.

Anyone interested in learning more about astronomy is invited to come to all our events.