San Juan Stargazers to hold star party with telescopes on Dec. 22

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By Joan Meiritz | San Juan Stargazers

Our monthly meeting in December will be on Thursday, Dec. 22, starting with a social time of coffee, tea and other treats at 5 p.m. and setting up telescopes. Also, please bring your telescopes from home. 

We will not be meeting at the church, rather at one of our star party sites. If you need directions, please call (720) 626-9304 and leave a message for a return call. Nonmembers are welcome, but will need to call ahead. As always, please be caring of our members and stay home if you’re not feeling 100 percent well. Wear a mask for caution against our new “winter triple threat.” Wearing a mask is a great statement of love for yourself and others. It is a small price to pay for your life.

“Meadows West” is where we held our 10th anniversary dinner and where our December meeting will be held. The beauty of having star parties at someone’s home is that when we get cold, we can go inside to warm up with tea and hot chocolate and maybe a warm fire. Many of us are not as hardy as we used to be.

If the weather does not allow for telescope use, we will have a great program with a speaker and birthday cake. This fall, Dr. Andy Green, who worked as an astronomer at the Australian National Observatory, joined our club. He has spoken to the club in the past when he was visiting his mom, Nancy Green, a dedicated Chimney Rock Interpretive (CRIA) volunteer of at least 25 years. Green is now living in Pagosa and if we can’t use our scopes, he will answer “astronomy questions.” He is an exceptional teacher.

One other activity of the night will be to prepare for our James Webb programs to be held on Jan. 12 and Feb. 9, 2023. Mont McAllister will be gathering a list and pictures of the most recent Webb discoveries. Members can pick a favorite to present to Pagosa in the new year.

There are only a few Space Mysteries Calendars left. We actually sold out our first order, but got more for the many people of Pagosa who purchase calendars every year. The space photos for each month are fabulous, mostly from Hubble. Seriously studying the pictures and information is like having an introduction to astronomy class. The calendars are $15, which includes a partial club donation. They are a perfect gift to mail to your grandchildren so that when you talk with them, you can give them a mini astronomy lesson and maybe even a quiz. 

You can all get more in touch with our amazing universe in a simple and fun way. Call (303) 995-2888 and leave a message with the number of calendars and your name and phone number. Someone will get back to you to make pickup plans. Stargazers will be at the Old-Fashioned Christmas Celebration event on Saturday, Dec. 17, from 4:30 to 7 p.m. next to the CRIA booth and heaters. We cannot sell calendars, but people can pick up calendars that they have ordered. 

We will be having many star parties this winter. As our club is growing, we now have three homes for winter star parties. They will be identified as “Meadows West,” “Meadows East” and “Downtown.” The dates are: 

• Jan. 20, 2023: Deep-sky viewing at Meadows East.

• Jan. 28, 2023: Moon viewing at Meadows West.

• Feb. 17, 2023: Deep-sky at Meadows West. 

• March 17, 2023: Deep-sky at Meadows East.

• March 28, 2023: First Quarter Moon viewing at Meadows West.

• April 14 and 21, 2023: Deep Sky at Meadows East. 

Note that there are no star parties at the beginning of the months because each month begins with a full moon. If these dates get clouded out, we will do some impromptu parties. Our goal, besides having fun, is to be prepared for Summer Night Sky Programs at Chimney Rock with telescopes (until our next pandemic).

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. The December 2022 Reflector Magazine has been delivered. If you didn’t get yours, please contact Joan. 

To join both groups and get an excellent astronomy magazine, annual membership is only $25 per 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 on our website. 

 The San Juan Stargazers Club is part of the Astronomical League — celebrating its 75th year of service — which includes over 300 clubs from all over the U.S. including over 20,000 members. Our local group also has a website, www.sanjuanstargazers.org. Check it out for more information and beautiful Hubble and Webb photos. We welcome everyone to learn more about our amazing universe. Hope to see you soon.