CRIA’s virtual lecture series will continue with Erica Ellingson Jan. 14


By Nadia Werby

Chimney Rock Interpretive Association

The Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA) hosts a free lecture series several times a year to offer the opportunity for the public and CRIA volunteers to gather and enjoy a speaker whose topic typically relates to southwest archaeology, archaeoastronomy and/or Chacoan culture. 

Experts in the field travel sometimes from far distances to Pagosa Springs to present at this free series, but this month’s lecture series is now happening live and online for all to enjoy from the comforts of your home. 

Join us on Thursday, Jan. 14, as Erica Ellingson discusses “Moon Watchers: Did ancient sky observers track the long and subtle cycle of the lunar standstill?” Space is limited to first-come, first-served. To join this special Zoom presentation online at 7 p.m., you will need the Zoom link and meeting ID located at

Sky watchers are aware of the monthly cycle of the moon phases changing from new to full. But the moon also executes a longer dance across the skies. The 18-year pattern of the “lunar standstills” is harder to track, requiring careful observations of the position of the moon over many years. 

In this presentation, we’ll explore the reasons for this long cycle and look critically at possible evidence that ancient cultures from around the world watched the moon in such detail and left clues for us to find hundreds or thousands of years later.

Ellingson is associate vice provost (AVP) for undergraduate education at the University of Colorado Boulder. She holds degrees in physics and astrophysics from MIT and the University of Arizona. She joined the faculty of CU Boulder’s Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences in 1995 and is a fellow of the Center for Astrophysical and Space Astronomy. 

Ellingson’s research focuses on observational cosmology and galaxy clusters. She uses a wide range of telescopes around the world and in space to explore the properties of galaxies and dark matter at multiple wavelengths. 

Her projects also include work with ancient astronomy in the southwest U.S. She teaches courses on cosmology, galaxies, observational techniques and archaeoastronomy. She is director of the Science, Technology and Astronomy Recruits (CU — STARS), an undergraduate student outreach program that brings space-themed activities to schools across Colorado. 

In her current role as AVP, Ellingson is responsible for assisting in the implementation of initiatives associated with new students at CU, including the First-Year Seminar program and the development of freshman interest groups. These programs work with faculty and students, with the goal of supporting first-year students in the University of Colorado Boulder community and allowing them the opportunity to achieve their individual success goals. Outside of her professional activities, Ellingson enjoys trekking and backpacking, gardening and travels the world.

CRIA offers a great training program to anyone interested in joining our amazing team of volunteers. You can learn more about how to get involved in CRIA and Chimney Rock National Monument at 

CRIA is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that runs the daily operations and interpretive program 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 or call 731-7133.