Next Stargazers meeting to include famous photos of the Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula Stellar Nursery

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By Joan Mieritz
Special to The PREVIEW
The San Juan Stargazers will hold their regular meeting on Thursday, Feb. 22, in the Visitor Center conference room, located along Hot Springs Boulevard.
We will meet from 7 to 8:30 p.m. You will be able to warm up with hot coffee, cocoa, tea or apple cider and a treat. If the roads are unsafe, we will cancel the meeting and postpone the program. If that happens, look for an email blast or call 731-0186.
We begin our meetings with refreshments, introductions and information about upcoming events. Then our program starts with a written description and explanation of stellar nurseries and the process of star formation and birth. This includes the most visible stellar nursery in Orion and the now-famous one in the Eagle Nebula. Next, we will have a video lesson by a university professor and astronomer that includes spectacular photos taken by the Hubble space telescope. The program is educational, entertaining and often awe-inspiring. After our January lesson, the room was silent and we sat for a few moments in absolute wonder.
We are starting to gear up for next summer’s Night Sky programs at Chimney Rock, including nine star parties, which are well attended by locals and visitors from around the world. We are so incredibly fortunate to have so many opportunities to view the amazing night sky in the darkness of Chimney Rock National Monument. Consider coming to our meeting to learn about becoming a volunteer. We have five Chimney Rock Interpretive Association telescopes that need operators and you will be patiently trained on the job and thrilled by how quickly you learn.
There also are two volunteer recruitment events, one on Friday, Feb. 16, at the library and on March 16 at The Springs Resort. Chimney Rock is in need of more than usual new volunteers because it is growing so rapidly.
Volunteering for Night Sky programs gives a great return in being able to view using the telescopes after guests leave. You don’t need to know everything about astronomy, no one does. You will work with a wonderful team of people who support each other and know how to handle difficult questions. We also welcome and treasure new people.
The San Juan Stargazers are part of the Astronomical League, which includes clubs from all over the US. We have a website, www.SanJuanStargazers.com, as well as an email address, sjstargazers@gmail.com, and a club phone number, 731-0186, to help communicate with the public. Out-of-town amateur astronomers are always welcome, as well as anyone interested in learning more about astronomy.