San Juan Stargazers announce shirt sale, Sept. 29 program to feature Webb Telescope worker


By Joan Mieritz | San Juan Stargazers

The San Juan Stargazers are offering everyone in Pagosa Springs the opportunity to buy our 10th anniversary San Juan Stargazers T-shirts, long and short sleeve, and sweatshirt hoodies with fabulous James Webb Space Telescope photos. This is not for fundraising, so shirts are priced at cost.

All these shirts will have fantastic newly released photos from the James Webb Space Telescope on the back with a picture of the telescope on the front. Several different photos are available, including the Phantom galaxy, M74 in the Pisces constellation, Stephan’s Quintet which is a very popular galaxy group seen here with a good telescope around 4 a.m., the Tarantula Nebula, an ominous stellar nursery, the Ring Nebula and, hopefully, a section of the famous Deep Field. They are unique and a timely special gift. The shirts come in several colors and are in sizes small, medium, large and extra large. 

The prices are: short-sleeve T-shirt, $22; long-sleeve T-shirt, $25; and sweatshirt hoodies, $31. 

We are asking people who want to order to call (303) 995-2888 and leave a message with your name, phone number and possible order. Someone will get back to you later to discuss and confirm your order and set up payment. The deadline for the order is Sept. 19. The shirts will be passed out at our 10th anniversary dinner and star party on Oct. 7 or can be picked up by everyone not attending the following week.

Chimney Rock National Monument celebration

On Sept. 22- 24, there will be a huge celebration of the 10th anniversary of Chimney Rock becoming a national monument. There will be a free all-day celebration at the site on Saturday, Sept. 24, starting at 10 a.m. 

Of course, the San Juan Stargazers will be taking part since astronomy was an important part of life for the ancient people. The club will be making two comets in honor of Haley’s Comet that covered one-quarter of the night sky over Chimney Rock in 1066. 

We hope that you will enjoy this free event put on by the National Forest Service, the Chimney Rock Interpretive Association and the San Juan Stargazers, and there will be many native Americans who trace their ancestry back to Chimney Rock who will be selling their special artwork and jewelry and possibly dancing (which may or may not be viewed by the public). Native Americans will have special time when the monument is closed to the public to honor their ancestors.

Club meeting to feature program by Bob Mitchell

The regular club meeting for the San Juan Stargazers will be held on Thursday, Sept. 29, in the Community United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall at 434 Lewis St. Please use the parking lot door so the front doors may remain locked. At 6 p.m. there will be a social time with coffee, tea, etc. 

This month’s program beginning at 7 p.m. will be Bob Mitchell, who worked on the James Webb Space Telescope. He did his first presentation to us on the James Webb in 2013. 

He will be speaking again just about the wonders of the actual telescope. It is perhaps the most perfect machine ever produced by humans. It is now 1 million miles from Earth and cannot be visited by astronauts as the Hubble was. 

It had to be “perfect” before it left Earth and its performance so far is flawless. It had 344 single points of failure that would have scrapped the entire mission. It is an amazing story of how humans achieved “perfection.” 

Mitchell is an engineer and amateur astronomer, so his talk will be about the development and construction of the telescope and the problems that had to be over-come. All students are encouraged to attend. The presentation will not be too sophisticated for people to understand.

COVID is not over and we are encouraging people to wear masks for our meeting. Let’s be safe, not sorry.

How to join the Stargazers

If you would like to join the San Juan Stargazers, 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. This year, there is a fabulous special gift for new and renewing members. It will help you become the astronomer you have always dreamed of being. 

You will love it. You can join the club at any of our events or on our website. 

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, Check it out for more information and beautiful Hubble and Webb photos. We welcome everyone to learn more about our amazing universe. We hope to see you soon.