May 24 Stargazers program about navigating the night sky


By Joan Mieritz
Special to The PREVIEW
The San Juan Stargazers will hold their regular meeting on Thursday, May 24, in the Pagosa Springs Visitor Center conference room, located at 105 Hot Springs Blvd. The meeting will be from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Before 7 p.m., we have beverages and time to socialize. Then we start with introductions and information about upcoming events. In April, we were so happy to have 11 first-time visitors who we hope will return and bring others.
For our program, we are using a new series of lessons called “Getting to Know Our Night Sky,” taught by Professor Edward Murphy of the University of Virginia. This lesson is titled “Seeing and Navigating the Sky,” telling us how to use constellations.
You can then practice what you learn by becoming a volunteer at Chimney Rock National Monument star parties. We have five Chimney Rock Interpretive Association telescopes that need operators, or you can bring your own scope. It is a great opportunity to learn how to use a telescope and then share your discoveries with the visitors.
Seeing new people using a telescope encourages others to try it themselves. We are all up there together with different levels of knowledge and skill, trying to learn more about our amazing universe. It is an amazing experience. There are other jobs needing to be filled, 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 magnificent. Come and see for yourself.
The first Night Sky Program at Chimney Rock is on May 18, with the gate opening at 7:15 p.m. and the program starting at 8 p.m. We will focus on our solar system, especially the moon. This would be a great time for locals to attend because we have fewer visitors in May. We are incredibly fortunate to have so many opportunities to view the amazing night sky in the darkness of Chimney Rock National Monument. But, you do need to show up. We can almost always squeeze in a few locals.
At 6 p.m. on May 24, we will again have a telescope clinic. These are so valuable considering all the unused telescopes with owners needing help. We are asking that you call 335-8286 to reserve a “telescope expert” no later than May 23 (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.
The Stargazers unexpectedly lost one of our most reliable members, Nancy Savage, on this past New Year’s Eve and we were planning on dedicating the first Star Party to her memory. Several of her family members will be here in June, so, instead, the June 8 Star Party will include a brief memorial tribute to her. If you are attending the memorial, please explain at the cabin and you will not need to pay for attending.
The San Juan Stargazers are part of the Astronomical League, which includes clubs from all over the U.S. We have a website,, as well as an email address, and a club phone number, 335-8286, to help communicate with the public.
Out-of-town, amateur astronomers are welcome as well as anyone interested in learning more about astronomy. We hope to see you.