May activities announced for San Juan Stargazers

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    By Joan Mieritz
    San Juan Stargazers

     The San Juan Stargazers will have a great start to the summer of 2021, with National Astronomy Day taking place on Saturday, May 15, at the Visitor Center (Hot Springs Boulevard along the San Juan River) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

    There will be age-appropriate activities for children and families to enjoy working on together. There will be educational programs for adults and other learning tools that can be used by everyone. Refreshments will be available for a donation. 

    Perhaps most importantly, there will be members available to talk with visitors about telescopes or whatever other questions they may have. This is your opportunity to ask any question you have about astronomy. We either will have an answer or be able to locate the needed information. Clubs all over the U.S. will be learning and celebrating on this day. Hope to see you for an “out-of-this-world” fun time.

    Our first public Night Sky Program will be May 21. The gate opens at 7:15 p.m., with the program starting in the Chimney Rock Amphitheater at 8 p.m. Reservations are always recommended, but we normally do not turn interested people away. 

    Our next Stargazer Club meeting will be on May 27 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Visitor Center. Come early for coffee and tea. We will be sharing and critiquing all of the presentations that will be given at the Chimney Rock National Monument Night Sky programs. This can be especially valuable for the general public. 

    There are people in Pagosa who work on Friday nights or are not healthy enough to spend time in the cool evenings outdoors in the gorgeous amphitheater. Plan a nice evening with your aging grandma or other relative. This will be inside, it is free, and everyone is welcome. It is a wonderful opportunity for anyone who cannot normally attend our Night Sky programs. It will also help our members decide if they want to become presenters. I promise that everyone will learn a lot. We will show presentations on the ancient people of Chimney Rock, our solar system, and stars and galaxies. 

    May 28 will be our first members-only telescope viewing and training at the upper parking lot at Chimney Rock. The gate will open at 7 p.m., so there will be plenty of time to get your telescope set up. If you need help, it will be available. This will be our only opportunity to prepare for our important training session given by astronomer and observatory owner Steve McAllister on June 4. He will provide the best training for telescope use. 

    Due to the continuation of the COVID pandemic, this evening is for members only. There will be strict rules on very limited sharing of telescopes. If you have your COVID immunization card, please bring it. If you don’t have a telescope, we have several extra available requiring prearrangements. 

    At all of our events, we will follow the COVID regulations for Archuleta County and Colorado for that date. Bring a mask and, of course, respect each individual’s decisions for their safety. Telescopes can pass the virus on the eyepiece. We are scientifically cautious people not willing to take unnecessary risks.

     At all of these events, the San Juan Stargazers’ 2021 summer schedule at Chimney Rock National Monument — which includes several new activities — will be available. Telescope observing manuals which are reasonable in price and the best available will be for sale at all events. Please bring cash or checks since the club cannot accept credit cards.

    If you would like to join the San Juan Stargazers, we can still add your name to the list of people receiving Reflector Magazine, which is the publication of the National Astronomical League of which you automatically become a member. To join both groups and get an excellent astronomy magazine, annual membership is only $25 per family. 

    The San Juan Stargazers Club is part of the Astronomical League, which includes clubs from all over the U.S. We have a website, www.sanjuanstargazers.org. Our club address is P.O. Box 2217, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147. 

    We welcome all visitors to public events to learn more about our amazing universe, and, as a club, we are committed to becoming the best amateur astronomers possible.