By Joan Mieritz
Special to The PREVIEW
The San Juan Stargazers’ regular monthly meeting is the day after Christmas, so instead, we will meet on Thursday, Dec. 19, in the Visitor Center conference room located at 105 Hot Springs Blvd. The meeting is from 7 to 8:30 p.m. sharp. Hot drinks and goodies will be served starting at 6:30 p.m. for a holiday social time.
This month, there will again be two parts to our meeting. First, we will be discussing the wonderful StarLab — a portable planetarium that Anita Hinger, science teacher of Pagosa Springs Middle School, has been gathering money to benefit all 1,636 students of our school district.
It is an outstanding multifunctional piece of science equipment which includes programs in addition to astronomy, for weather, plate tectonics, geology and other areas. A decision needs to be made with an official minimum of 20 votes. If you are unable to be present, please call the club number or mail to the club address or email your name and vote so we can have a quorum. The people present will need to discuss and decide the timing and amount our club will contribute.
Then we will have a regular program from the series that we have been studying for two years, called “Experiencing Hubble: Understanding the Greatest Images of the Universe.” It includes a written lesson and a video lecture by Professor David Meyer of Northwestern University. The lesson title is “The Hubble Ultra Deep Field Photographs.”
The significance of these photos is that the Hubble camera was originally pointed in a direction where nothing was visible. After a long timed exposure, there appeared thousands of galaxies, indicating that there are, in fact, billions of galaxies in the universe. These are among the most famous Hubble pictures and no matter how many times a person sees them, they are astonishing and thrilling. It should be a lesson to remember.
There will also be an important planning meeting for all interested Stargazers on Monday, Dec. 16, at 10 a.m. at the Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA) office. The amphitheater at Chimney Rock was completed in October and I think it is beautiful and wonderful. I would like to see if we can discover a way to use it for the Night Sky Programs. There are many options and we all have to get flexible and creative. We may need to experiment and try various ideas. I would like it if Stargazers and CRIA support people could get together to brainstorm many possibilities.
We are again selling our fabulous Astronomy Magazine Deep Space Mysteries 2020 Calendar. There are exceptional photos of several classic galaxies, nebulae, a stellar nursery, a young star cluster, a galaxy cluster, a supernova remnant and the very famous Orion Nebula photo that in itself makes it worth getting. Each photo has a detailed explanation to help you learn the basics of astronomy, so it is perfect for a student. There are notations of significant sky events and phases of the moon.
It is much easier this year to pick up a copy at the Visitor Center. Both Hillary and Rick can help you, but get yours soon as there are only four left. The cost is $13. They are perfect to mail and they give the message everyday throughout the year that you cared enough to send such an amazing gift.
Remember that new people are always welcome at our meetings and this is a lesson you will not want to miss. I am certain that when the lights come back on, we will all be in absolute wonder. I hope you can join us for this amazing experience.
The San Juan Stargazers are part of the Astronomical League, which includes clubs from all over the U.S. We have a new website, www.sanjuanstargazers.org, as well as an email address, email@example.com, and a club phone number, 335-8286. Our club address is P.O. Box 2217, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.
We welcome everyone who has an interest in learning more about our amazing universe.
By Joan Mieritz