July and August set to be busy for San Juan Stargazers


By Joan Mieritz

Special to The PREVIEW

Every year the Stargazers take part in the free-to-the-public Chimney Rock activity called Life at Chimney Rock, which is Saturday, July 20, and Sunday, July 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Stargazers have a booth about astronomy among the many other activities such as yucca pounding, atlatl throwing, pottery making and more that the ancient people did. We will talk about the coming lunar standstill in 2022 and we have more than a dozen astronomy activities for all ages from coloring for the youngest to an adult word search and lots of educational and fun things in between.

Some of the pottery that is for sale, made by Native Americans with ancestors at Chimney Rock, is related to astronomy. It is very cleverly created and the prices are reasonable. The Indian tacos and fry bread are “out of this world.” It is an enjoyable experience that you and your children or grandchildren will not want to miss. There also are extra tours to the ruins (regular price).

On Thursday, July 25, we will not have a usual meeting. At 6 p.m., we will have a Telescope Clinic to help people figure out their telescopes. Call 335-8286 to reserve a telescope expert to help you. At 7 p.m., instead of a program, there will be hands-on lessons on constellations and Messier objects. We will use our new photo flash cards and go over the recent protocol for using a telescope.

The goal is that you will know and be able to identify more constellations and Messier objects, including galaxies, star clusters, open and globular and nebula of various types. It will be a valuable learning session developed by Joan Mieritz, who is a master teacher of easy and fun learning. You will feel really smart after this session.

We have star parties on Friday, July 26 (Stars and Galaxies), and Friday, Aug. 9, (Our Solar System).

We need more telescopes at Chimney Rock. If you own a telescope and bring it to share, you and a guest do not need to pay to get into the Star Party and we will provide training and help.

On Thursday, Aug. 8, we will have a special joint meeting with the Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA). We will meet at The Springs Resort at 6 p.m. for delicious hors d’oeuvres. Then, at 7 p.m., a very special guest, Dr. Erica Ellingson, professor of astrophysical and planetary science at the University of Colorado, Boulder, will speak. Her research interests include galaxies, dark matter and observational cosmology, and she is fascinated with all aspects of how humans connect with the sky and understand the cosmos. Her recent projects include developing public programs on the astronomy of the Ancestral Puebloans in collaboration with Chaco Cultural National Park and Chimney Rock National Monument. She has been at Chimney Rock numerous times doing research and will share some of her findings.

Her talk should interest the general Pagosa community, Chimney Rock volunteers and astronomy people. I want to encourage everyone to attend. CRIA members make treats to share at a 6 p.m. snack potluck, but the San Juan Stargazers club will buy special food so our members do not need to prepare something. Just show up. It should be very valuable and it is special fun when we have joint meetings with CRIA and see how many people are involved with Chimney Rock National Monument.

We invite people who want to learn more about our amazing universe to all our events.