Celebrate National Astronomy Day Saturday, May 15


By Joan Mieritz
San Juan Stargazers

National Astronomy Day will take place in towns and cities across our country and many places around the world on Saturday, May 15. 

For Pagosa, it will be at the downtown 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 scholarship fund donation. Perhaps most importantly, there will be members available to talk to visitors about telescopes or other questions. This is your opportunity to ask any question you have about astronomy. Hope to see you for “out-of-this-world” fun.

Our first public Night Sky Program will be Friday, May 21. The gate opens at 7:15 p.m., with the program starting in the Chimney Rock amphitheater at 8 p.m. 

Sky watching around Pagosa

I hope that some of you were able to see the SpaceX satellites in the northwest sky this weekend. I saw them on Friday and Saturday nights (May 7 and 8) about 9 p.m. They were little and cute, but the number of them was amazing. They kept coming and coming. We saw about 40 to 50. I don’t know how long they will be visible, but if you can, do look for them. 

There will be a total lunar eclipse on the morning of Wednesday, May 26. Because it is a lunar eclipse, eye protection is not needed. It will be a super moon, meaning the moon is closer to Earth than it normally is and appears larger. The eclipse will cause it to become a deep red blood moon and the color is expected to be exceptional. The only bad thing is that you have to lose a little sleep to see it. The eclipse begins at 2:47 a.m. The full eclipse, the most dramatic part, begins at 5:11 a.m. with the maximum being at 5:18 a.m. and the full eclipse is over by 5:25 a.m. The end of the total eclipse will not be visible from Pagosa because it will be below the horizon. How much of the ending you will see depends on your particular location.

Our next Stargazer Club meeting will be on Thursday, May 27, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Visitor Center. We will be sharing and critiquing all of the presentations that will be given at the Chimney Rock National Monument Night Sky programs. 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. 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 Chimney Rock. The gate will open at 7 p.m. 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. Because telescopes can pass the virus on the eyepiece, this is for members only. There will be strict rules on 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.

If you would like to join the San Juan Stargazers, you will also receive 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.