By Joan Mieritz
Special to The PREVIEW
The San Juan Stargazers will hold their regular meeting on Thursday, April 26, in the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center conference room, located at 105 Hot Springs Blvd.
We will meet from 7 to 8:30 p.m. We start before the meeting with coffee, cocoa, tea or apple cider and time to socialize. Then there will be introductions and information about upcoming events.
Our programs will be changing. During the winter, we studied Hubble images of deep-sky objects which were beautiful and amazing. As the summer is approaching, we need to become better backyard astronomers (or I should say Chimney Rock — which is kind of our backyard — astronomers).
We are beginning a new series of lessons called “Getting to Know Our Night Sky” taught by Professor Murphy of the University of Virginia. The first lesson is on constellations, which are of interest to many people. We will have constellation flashcards available to take home for study and celestial planispheres to see how the night sky changes over time. It should be an interesting lesson with some great tools to help you actually learn the constellations.
Next summer’s Night Sky Programs at Chimney Rock will include nine Star Parties: one in May and two each month in June, July, August and September. Each month, one event is scheduled for the best time to see deep-sky objects and another one is scheduled for the best viewing of the moon and planets. These are well attended by locals and visitors from all over the U.S. and around the world.
We are incredibly fortunate to have so many opportunities to view the amazing night sky in the darkness of Chimney Rock National Monument. You can come 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. Volunteering for Night Sky programs gives an added bonus of being able to use the telescopes after guests leave and receiving personal instruction. You don’t need to know a lot about astronomy because it doesn’t take long to know more than most visitors and we constantly refer to other people who are more expert on certain topics.
There are other jobs available, too, including welcoming, crowd control for safety and helping with parking. You will work with a wonderful team of people who welcome and treasure new people wanting to learn and bask in the glorious night sky at Chimney Rock. The views of the Milky Way are literally out of this world. Come and see for yourself.
Telescope clinics are valuable considering all the wonderful telescopes sitting unused and gathering dust in the closets of Archuleta County. We are providing several opportunities starting at 6 p.m., before our regular meeting.
We are asking that you call 731-0676 to reserve a “telescope expert” no later than April 25 (the day before the meeting). Your expert will then be waiting for you at 6 p.m. It is amazing how our telescope experts can quickly analyze problems, but if you need more time, we will figure out a way to get your scope working.
If you attended a past clinic and didn’t followed through on things needing to be done, we are forgiving and warm-hearted people and you can have a second chance. We just want to get the dust off and get the scope educating and amazing people.
The San Juan Stargazers are part of the Astronomical League, which includes clubs from all over the U.S. We have a website, www.SanJuanStargazers.com, as well as an email address, email@example.com, and a club phone number, 731-0676, to help communicate with the public. Out-of-town amateur astronomers are always welcome, as well as anyone interested in learning more about astronomy. We hope to see you.
By Joan Mieritz