Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What geographic area does the Club cover?
A. Our members and events are generally in and around the Grand Junction, Colorado area. We meet most often for stargazing at the Colorado National Monument, where there’s plenty of parking, nearby restrooms, a large picnic area, and camp sites a short walk away! We also meet on occasion at Colorado State Parks, like Highline Lake S.P. and Rifle Gap S.P. – where the skies are nice and dark for astronomy. Like the Monument, the State Parks also have paved parking, on-site camping, and restrooms.
Q. Are your public stargazing events free?
A. Yes! The whole family is welcome!! Note that depending on where we have our public event there might be an entry fee required to enter a State or National Park. Did you know that you can get an inexpensive annual park pass to Colorado National Monument? Here’s more info:
Q. Do I need to bring a telescope to your public stargazing events?
A. No. We usually have several telescopes all setup, so there is no need to bring one. You are certainly welcome to bring your telescope and/or binoculars if you like. We can help you setup your telescope and even help you find celestial objects in the night sky.
Q. Can we operate the Club telescopes ourselves?
A. Please ask before touching the telescopes, and please make your children aware of this. Our club members generously bring their own telescopes to share with the public and they will gladly operate them for you. Some of these telescopes can be very expensive, and even irreplaceable. If you have questions about the operation of a particular telescope then please ask! We welcome your curiosity and appreciate your cooperation!!
Q. When should I arrive for your public stargazing events, and can I use a flashlight?
A. Arrive just after sunset. This will give you time to see the telescopes that we’ll have setup, ask questions, and see celestial objects that might be setting early in the evening. If you arrive when it’s already dark we ask (as a courtesy) that you keep headlights and flashlights from shining in the general direction of the telescopes. Red light flashlights are highly recommended for helping you move around safely in the dark because red light preserves night vision. Ask for assistance in turning your white-light flashlight into a red light – for night use.
Q. What should I bring for my own comfort?
A. If you would like to relax and enjoy stargazing for the evening then you might bring a chair, snacks, something to drink, comfortable shoes, and appropriate clothing for the evening’s weather. In warmer times of the year you should be prepared for mosquitoes and other flying insects. Long sleeves and long pants can help. Otherwise be prepared for cooler temperatures as the evening progresses. Layer your clothing and bring water or your favorite warm beverage. We want you and your family to be comfortable and have an enjoyable experience!
Q. I wear eyeglasses for reading. Do I need my eyeglasses to look through a telescope?
A. Yes and no. Bring your eyeglasses just in case the view through the telescope is difficult for you to focus. The owner of the telescope will be happy to adjust the eyepiece focus for your eyes. Just ask!
Q. Do I need to know where the constellations are or what planets might be visible?
A. No. We can show you all of those things – and more! Just bring your curiosity!!
Q. I have one of those planisphere things. Can you show me how to use it?
A. Absolutely! Bring it with you!! Many people now own portable devices with software that shows constellation maps of the night sky. These phones and tablets can be useful and educational, but please remember to set the display for the “night vision” or dim red viewing mode so the light from the screens will not disturb other observers. Similarly, please do not take flash photographs because the bright light will affect the night vision of others nearby.
Q. My family and I will arrive in our flying saucer. It’s an older Airstream Thermosphere 500 model that’s not too big. Is there enough room to land it in the parking area at Colorado National Monument?
A. Um, yes… Uhhh, shouldn’t be a problem if it’s not TOO big and doesn’t generate a powerful and widely-disbursed magnetic field. This would, of course, affect the alignment and/or integrity of our nearby METAL telescopes. Please try to arrive at sunset so we can help guide you in to a spot further away from the scopes. Your cooperation would be greatly appreciated! Oh, and the only Club member we have who really knows how to properly jump start the older Airstream 500’s has recently moved to Hawaii, so you’re on your own there.