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San Juan Stargazers to meet Feb. 21

By Jerry Granok
Special to The PREVIEW

The San Juan Stargazers astronomy club will hold its monthly meeting on Thursday, Feb. 21, starting at 5 p.m. for socializing in the conference room at the Chamber of Commerce offices on Hot Springs Boulevard.

If you can, please bring finger food to share with the group, since meetings start early during the winter months.

This month’s program, which will start at 5:45, will feature a video narrated by Robert Redford titled “The Mystery of Chaco Canyon.” The video explores the amazing archaeoastronomy found at the Chaco Culture National Historic Park which is only about 100 miles southwest of Pagosa Springs as the crow flies.

Archaeoastronomy is defined as the study of the astronomy of prehistoric cultures. Unlike most archaeoastronomical sites such as Stonehenge where a single location with multiple markers is used to define the occurrence of significant astronomical events such as the summer and winter solstices and the spring and fall equinoxes, the entire complex at Chaco Canyon covering several square miles is one big astronomical calculator. Watch as the video uncovers how the ancient Chacoans used their buildings, their petroglyphs and their pictographs to chronicle, track and predict the occurrence of heavenly phenomenon involving the sun, the moon and the stars.

Following the presentation and a discussion, the group will discuss what future topics they would like presented and what field activities they can/would like to participate in. The club members constitute a wide range of interest, experience and knowledge, and the only membership requirement is an interest in some aspect of astronomy. What you know about astronomy is not as important as what you want to learn and share with others.

The San Juan Stargazers is open to anyone, regardless of age or experience, who has an interest in astronomy. Club meetings are held the third Thursday of the month in the conference room at the Chamber of Commerce offices on Hot Springs Boulevard. The club has a website, www.sanjuanstargazers.com, as well as an e-mail address, sjstargazers@gmail.com, and a phone number, (970) 335-8286, to help communicate with the public.

This story was posted on February 14, 2013.