The builders of the 10 great houses in Chaco Canyon created the most splendid buildings in what would become the United States. The largest, Pueblo Bonito had nearly 800 rooms and was five stories high; a size only surpassed in the U.S. in about 1880 (for a single use building). The architectural style and perfection of the masonry techniques enabled these buildings (abandoned about A.D. 1120) to survive the effects of weather quite well. The builders of the structures at Chaco Canyon were also quite sensitive to celestial alignments, as represented by their choice of building locations and alignments of the buildings themselves. We will discuss some of these alignments and some of the speculation concerning the use of these monumental structures.
The Littles have been involved in teaching astronomy to undergraduates at a variety of institutions for over 30 years. Stephen Little received his Ph.D. from UCLA and Irene Little from Indiana University. While currently retired, they still maintain a research connection with the University of Colorado in Boulder. Both have taught astronomy courses at CU including a course on Ancient Astronomies and have published numerous scientific papers dealing with the evolution of stars and are currently involved in research in archeo-astronomy (astronomy of ancient cultures).
Stephen and Irene Little have presented workshops for college teachers of astronomy on teaching methods and the use of telescopes and astronomical software for five summers at CU Boulder. At Crow Canyon Archeological Center in Cortez, Colo., they have given week-long programs on the astronomy of ancient cultures in the four corners area. Through the Rocky Mountain Nature Association they have presented day-long seminars on “Highlights of Astronomy,” “New Discoveries in Astronomy” and “Astronomies of Native Americans.” In conjunction with Ranger Jeff Maugans, they have developed an ongoing astronomical observing program in Rocky Mountain National Park, seen by thousands of visitors since 1992.
Weather permitting after the presentation, visitors will be invited to look through the large 18-inch telescope at various celestial objects. Public Star Night at the Little Thompson Observatory will be Friday, Sept. 18. Doors will open at 7 p.m. and the program will start at 7:30 p.m. If you have any questions, please call the observatory information line at 970-613-7793 or check the LTO Web site at: www.StarKids.org.