Once-in-20-year celestial event to be visible in Colorado


By Joan Mieritz | San Juan Stargazers’ Astronomy Club

People in Colorado will have a very special treat in June, but you will need to get up at about 4:30 a.m., which is a small price to pay. 

Only in Colorado will you be able to see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn all in a row with Mercury located just on the horizon. June 24 is the best morning to see these planets, but looking any day in June should be good. 

This alignment was last viewed in 2004, so it happens about once every 20 years. A telescope would add a lot to view each planet individually, but bring your camera or cellphone to get all five planets in a row. For more information, see Sky and Telescope Magazine or check out Space.com.

June meeting canceled

It is always fun to make a schedule in the spring and then see what all can happen in real time to bring changes. The San Juan Stargazers Astronomy Club monthly meeting on Thursday, June 23, in the Community United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall is being canceled due to special activities at the church and a nationwide television presentation which all concerned citizens should be able to view. This month’s program on the Galilean moons of Jupiter will be postponed to the July 28 meeting. 

When talking about our Stargazers’ club meeting, a local woman said, “I don’t know much about Astronomy.” My reply was, “No one does.” 

Never feel that you do not know enough to attend our meetings. Astronomy is a science where everyone has much to learn and the best time to start is now. 

And talk about learning: Photos will begin in July from the incredible James Webb Space Telescope. What we learned from the Hubble will seem like preschool compared to what we will learn from the Webb.

Upcoming events

The San Juan Stargazers will also get together on Fridays, June 24, July 8, July 22 and July 29, at Chimney Rock with the gate opening from 7 to 8 p.m. for a telescope training session which lasts as long as people want to stay. 

Bring your own telescope, use a Chimney Rock Interpretive Association scope or share a scope with others. We will all help each other, learn a lot and have a great time. We do the training in the upper parking lot with the breath-taking view and the fabulous dark night sky.

Members, please note there is a change in the date for the event with Steve McAllister. On Wednesday, June 29, we will have McAllister, a special guest astronomer from the West Cliff Observatory. He came last summer and this summer on June 1, and he was so helpful with learning about our telescopes, solving problems with telescopes and giving us a fantastic view of deep-sky objects. Those who attended on June 1 are still in awe. Thursday, June 30, will be our back-up “cloud date.”

New membership year
to begin July 1 

If you would like to join the San Juan Stargazers, our new membership year begins July 1. You will also receive Reflector Magazine, which is the publication of the National Astronomical League of which you automatically become a member. To join both groups and get an excellent astronomy magazine, annual membership is only $25/ family. You can join the club at any of our events. 

The San Juan Stargazers club is part of the Astronomical League — celebrating its 75th year of service — which includes more than 250 clubs from all over the U.S. Our local group also has a website, www.sanjuanstargazers.org. Check it out for more information and beautiful Hubble photos. We welcome everyone to learn more about our amazing universe. We hope to see you soon.