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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

CRIA Lecture Series to begin with Ron Sutcliffe on April 19: ‘Lunar Phases through the Pinnacles’

By Nadia Werby | Chimney Rock Interpretive Association

As the only natural indicator in the world for the major lunar standstill (MLS), the twin sandstone spires at Chimney Rock National Monument create a narrow window of sky where the moon can be seen rising between the two pillars from very specific locations atop the ridge every 18.6 years. 

In preparation for the MLS rise-through-the-spires events and the MLS special programs to come in fall 2023, Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA) volunteers have been diligently performing celestial surveys which indicate the observational cycle of the MLS event has begun. The star Elnath heralds the beginning of the three-year cycle and will also rise between the spires as a precursor to these events. 

CRIA invites the public to learn about the MLS and the practice of naked-eye astronomy at the CRIA Lecture Series on Tuesday, April 19. The lecture will take place at 7 p.m. at the Methodist Church, located at 434 Lewis St. 

Join us as author and CRIA volunteer Ron Sutcliffe discusses “Lunar Phases through the Pinnacles.” 

Sutcliffe is the author of “Moon Tracks,” a guide to understanding the observed patterns of the sun and moon and how those patterns may have been employed by ancient astronomers, especially those of Chimney Rock. 

Guests at this lecture will learn about the MLS astronomical event and what was viewed at Chimney Rock a thousand years ago by ancient Puebloans. 

The presentation will also offer a show-and-tell of the photography taken at public programs during the last MLS three-year season (2004-2007). If weather permits, guests will have the opportunity to gather outside to view Elnath in the constellation Taurus while participating in a discussion about the indications for the MLS by learning how the stars are surveyed through naked-eye astronomy. 

Chimney Rock National Monument will open for the 2022 season on May 1. CRIA sponsors special events at Chimney Rock including the Night Sky Programs, Full Moon Program, Sunrise Programs, Geology Program, Birding at Chimney Rock, Flora of Chimney Rock, Mysteries of Chimney Rock Tours, and the always fun and free Life at Chimney Rock Festival. 

CRIA’s free lecture series offers several opportunities each year for the public and CRIA volunteers to enjoy a speaker whose topic typically relates to southwest archaeology, archaeoastronomy and/or Chacoan culture. 

CRIA is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that offers interpretive programs at Chimney Rock National Monument in partnership with the USDA Forest Service and the San Juan National Forest. For more information, see the CRIA website at www.chimneyrockco.org or call (970) 731-7133.

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