Stargazers plan several events

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By Joan Mieritz | San Juan Stargazers

On Friday, Aug. 5, there is a Night Sky Program at Chimney Rock National Monument entitled Our Solar System. You do not need a reservation, but can pay when you come and save a little money. 

The gate opens at 7:15 p.m. and the program starts at 8 p.m. The gift shop will be open as well as the short trail for hiking near the amphitheater. 

The program has five parts, all depending on weather conditions. We never cancel, but adjust as best we can to the changing Colorado weather. First will be a speaker, Tom Hanchett, who worked at NASA Mission Control and has many personal stories about astronauts and situations he had a front-row seat for. 

Eric Fisk will also give us an update on the satellite Osysris Rex that went to the asteroid Beneau and is now returning to Earth. Rex Kemp will tell about the ancient people living at Chimney Rock and their important connection to astronomy. Anne Marie Kemp will give a longer presentation on our solar system with emphasis on the moon. The last part of the program, when it is really dark, is a tour of the night sky by Judith Jubb, pointing out bright stars, constellations and whatever else is visible. 

Hubble and The Webb

The Stargazers are adding a new night of an amazing educational opportunity for all of Pagosa. Starting on Aug. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Community United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall (use the parking lot door), we will be meeting once a month for a new program titled “Hubble and The Webb.” 

We are hoping that many students and their parents will attend this free and very exciting program. We are asking for community involvement. Anyone can download the Webb pictures and present them at this gathering. Then, other people can add information and comments. We will all learn a great deal by sharing the information from each person. Astronomy club members will add to the educational value. Webb photos will have priority, but if there is time left, we will study Hubble’s greatest hits, a video program explaining some of the best discoveries made by the Hubble. You will learn the very latest in astronomy.

Perseid meteor shower

There will also be a night of special viewing at Chimney Rock National Monument on Friday, Aug. 12, of the Perseid meteor shower. The cost for being there is a donation to the national monument. 

We have a special area of incredible viewing for adults with lawn or carry-along chairs. We have an area for tarps and inflatable mattresses. There are many parking areas with space beside the car for chairs. As each group arrives, we will together assess the needs and find the best place for the group members. 

The gate will open at 7 p.m. and in the upper parking lot on the “hurra-durra,” arts and crafts activities will be available. Club members are encouraged to set up their telescopes on the upper level of the upper parking lot. Moving around to various activities will be allowed until 9 p.m., at which time each person must be in and stay in their assigned area for meteor shower viewing. After 9 p.m., the only walking will be as an emergency to the restroom or to your car to leave.

San Juan
Stargazers Club

If you would like to join the San Juan Stargazers, our new membership year begins July 1. 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/ family. This year there is a fabulous special gift for new and renewing members. It will help you become the astronomer you have always dreamed of being. You will love it. You can join the club at any of our events or mail in with information from our website. 

The San Juan Stargazers Club is part of the Astronomical League — celebrating its 75th year of service — which includes over 250 clubs from all over the U.S. Our local group also has a website, www.sanjuanstargazers.org. Check it out for more information and beautiful Hubble photos. We welcome everyone to learn more about our amazing universe. We hope to see you soon.