San Juan Stargazers Astronomy Club announces several changes

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By Joan Mieritz | San Juan Stargazers

The San Juan Stargazers Astronomy Club monthly meeting was scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 23, to include an indoor meeting, a birthday celebration for Joan Mieritz and our first winter star party with telescopes. 

A vote was not taken, but the consensus of members was that the meeting should be canceled due to the continuing COVID conditions in Colorado, with 17 new deaths on Sunday, Dec. 12, and a seven-day average in the state of 42 deaths per day. We may all want the pandemic to be over, but with the death toll so high, it obviously is not. 

Because we would be eating indoors and have to remove our masks, it is much wiser to be safe than sorry. Stargazers value life, the universe and each other. Mieritz wants it said that she loves her friends and club members more than an “auspicious birthday” party.

On Saturday, Dec. 18, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the inaugural Old-Fashioned Christmas Celebration on the San Juan Riverwalk and part of the Chimney Rock Interpretive Association presentation, the beautiful 2022 Deep Sky Mysteries Calendar will be available for payment ($15) and pickup for those who previously ordered one. Please try to get your calendars at this event. There may be a few extra calendars available.

In January and February, instead of regular monthly meetings, there will be winter members-only star parties, weather permitting, on Jan. 7, Jan. 28, Feb. 4 and Feb. 25, 2022, starting at 6 p.m. There will be a place to get warm. The location will be made available to club members.

On Wednesday, Dec. 22, at 5 a.m. will finally be the launch of the 10 billion dollar James Webb Infrared Telescope in French Guiana. The Webb was built by a consortium of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. It will take one month to reach its destination, the second Lagrange location over 1 million miles from Earth. An Ariane 5 rocket from the European Space Agency will launch the incredibly folded up telescope to fit inside the rocket. It will take six months to remotely unfold to its massive size. Unlike the Hubble, the Webb cannot be serviced by astronauts because it does not orbit Earth, but rather it orbits the sun at such a great distance. That is the reason for numerous postponements. Everything has to be perfect. Have humans ever achieved perfection? This is a one-shot-deal with $10 billion and years of work at stake. It should be worth getting up to see the launch and then wait for the unbelievable wonders it will reveal to us.

The San Juan Stargazers Club is part of the National Astronomical League, celebrating its 75th year of service, and includes over 250 clubs from all over the U.S. Our local group has a website, www.sanjuanstargazers.org. Check it out. Hope to see you at the Old-Fashioned Christmas Celebration to get your calendar.