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By Joan Mieritz
Special to The PREVIEW
The May 16 meeting of the San Juan Stargazers is one that can benefit everyone: It will change the night sky from a mysterious scattering of stars to understandable and navigable patterns that can open the universe to the viewer. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Chamber of Commerce conference room on Hot Springs Boulevard. Decaf coffee is served.
There will be three parts to the evening; the first is looking at calendars to pick dates for practicing with telescopes. Many people have a telescope and can’t use it freely. Then, there are others who do not have a scope and wish they did. Those people can learn to use Chimney Rock’s 2- to 10-inch Dobsonian telescopes, which are excellent and easy to use. If you haven’t been to a club meeting before and have a scope, this is the time to join in for valuable instruction and practice.
The program “Naked-eye Astronomy” will include classroom instruction by Lon Hoffman, who has hosted many Night Sky programs at Chimney Rock. His talks are so well-received that he remains a guest lecturer. He is also a valuable Pagosa educator, working at the Goal Academy to help young people achieve success in a less traditional environment. He will talk about constellations, then use a celestial planisphere and provide information for successful naked-eye viewing. The group will then go outside to a prime viewing site, probably on Reservoir Hill, and learn from an expert how to explore and enjoy the wondrous Pagosa night-sky. If rain prevents viewing, those in attendance will receive a “rain check” for the outdoor part of the program.
San Juan Stargazers’ regular meeting day is the third Thursday of each month. The purpose of the club is to educate members about an unbelievable universe of over 100 billion galaxies. Club members have many exciting ideas for programs, public events and field trips, and will host a national star party — the “San Juan Stargaze” — Aug. 8-11 with visitors from across the U.S. and other countries in attendance.
The club is part of the Astronomical League, with a website, www.SanJuanStargazers.com, an e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org, and a club phone number, (970) 335-8286 to help communicate with the public — all this thanks to Natalie Carpenter.