Stargazers add new educational program, Perseid meteor shower viewing


By Joan Mieritz | San Juan Stargazers

The San Juan Stargazers are adding a new program for an amazing educational opportunity for all of Pagosa. 

Starting on Aug.11 at 7 p.m. in the Community United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall (use the parking lot door), we will be meeting once a month (the second Thursday) for the program titled “Hubble and The Webb.” 

We are hoping that many students and their parents will attend this free and very exciting program. 

We welcome participant involvement. If you would like, download the Webb pictures and/or you can find information to present. Please bring books to share or other references. Astronomy club members will be the backup to ensure accuracy. 

Webb photos will be the priority, but if there is time, we will study “Hubble’s Greatest Hits,” a video program explaining some of the best discoveries made by the Hubble. You will learn the very latest information in astronomy.

In September (date to be announced later, hopefully the second Thursday), Bob Mitchell, who worked on the James Webb Space Telescope, will be in Pagosa to share amazing stories of its development and assembly. 

It appears to be the first perfect thing that humanity has produced. It is a million miles from earth and cannot be visited by astronauts for corrections or repairs. It had to be perfect when it left the earth on Dec. 25, 2021. There were several delays, but it successfully launched and, after getting to its special gravity location and unfolding, it has functioned perfectly. It will hopefully be sending new information to earth for the next 30 years.

Perseid meteor shower viewing

There will also be a night of special viewing at Chimney Rock National Monument on Friday, Aug. 12, of the Perseid meteor shower. The cost is a donation to the national monument. 

We have a special area of incredible viewing for adults with lawn or carry-along chairs. We have an area for tarps and inflatable mattresses. There are many parking places with space beside the car for chairs. As each group arrives, we will together assess the needs and find the best place for the group members. 

The gate will open at 7 p.m. and in the upper parking lot on the “hurra-durra,” arts and crafts activities will be available for both children and adults. It is a perfect opportunity for fun and creativity. 

Astronomy club members are encouraged to set up their telescopes at the regular location on the upper level of the upper parking lot. Moving around to various activities will be allowed until 9 p.m., at which time each person must be in and stay in their assigned area for meteor shower viewing. After 9 p.m., the only walking will be as an emergency to the restroom or to your car to leave. It may be a wonderful night, weather permitting. 

As usual, we will be modifying and adjusting as needed. The gift shop will be open from 8 to 9 p.m. The monument will close at midnight. 

Join the Stargazers

If you would like to join the San Juan Stargazers, our new membership year began 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. 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 mail in with information from 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 photos. We welcome everyone to learn more about our amazing universe. We hope to see you soon.