• Luke

In Boulder there’s lots of left hands. There’s Left Hand Brewing Company, Left Hand Creek, Left Hand Canyon. There’s also Niwot, which means left-handed in the native Arapaho language and is also the name of a town nearby (as well as nearby Niwot Mountain, and Niwot Ridge). All of these references to ‘left hand’ or Niwot are a homage to the southern Arapaho chief, Chief Niwot.



Chief Niwot

Chief Niwot played an integral role in Colorado’s state history. He and his people lived along the Front Range, often spending winters in Boulder Valley. In the fall of 1858 during the Colorado Gold Rush, early immigrants were welcomed by Niwot and his people to the area, even though it was Arapaho territory. Upon meeting the first settlers in the fall of 1858, Niwot is said to have stated his legendary Curse of the Boulder Valley. According to local lore, Chief Niwot said, “People seeing the beauty of this valley will want to stay, and their staying will be the undoing of the beauty.”


Chief Niwot wanted his tribe to coexist peacefully with the white man. He learned English, Cheyenne, and Sioux, which allowed him to communicate with white settlers and other tribes. However, peaceful relations between the southern Arapaho and the white prospectors did not last.


Racist Colorado Territorial Governor John Evans decided to get rid of the “Indian problem.” He ordered the peaceful southern Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes to relocate to Sand Creek, an area in southeast Colorado north of Fort Lyon (an area in far east Colorado close to Kansas, not to be confused with the town of Lyons that’s close to Boulder). Governor Evans then ordered the Third Colorado Cavalry, commanded by Colonel John Chivington, to patrol the land for hostile Indians.


Colonel Chivington and his men patrolled Colorado’s eastern plains for months without finding any hostile tribes. Frustrated, they headed to Sand Creek. Despite Major Edward Wynkoop, commander of Fort Lyons, stating that the Native people at Sand Creek were peaceful, Chivington and his men attacked the Araphao camp the morning of Nov. 29, 1864. There are no exact statistics on the number of people who were killed that day, but most historians believe approximately 230 American Indians were killed during the Sand Creek Massacre, including Chief Niwot, and mostly women, children, and the elderly.



Sand Creek

President Abraham Lincoln, bogged down by the Civil War, called for a Congressional investigation into the tragedy. Congress ruled the “gross and wanton” incident a “massacre” rather than a “battle.” Chivington was reprimanded for his actions and lost his commission, Governor Evans was removed from office, and Colorado was placed under martial law. The Sand Creek Massacre site is now designated as a National Historic Site.


Today, we remember Chief Niwot with all the references to his name and statues scattered around the boulder area. AstroTours happens at the “Boulder Valley Ranch trailhead” Chief Niwot’s legendary Curse is of the entire Boulder Valley. Chief Niwot is believed to have said: “People seeing the beauty of this valley will want to stay, and their staying will be the undoing of the beauty.”


The first half of the curse is as true then as it is today. The beauty of the Boulder Valley is definitely eye-catching and has caught the eyes of people from all over the world that move here. If you’ve been on an Astro Tour you’re definitely well aware of the beauty both on earth and in the heavens above the Boulder Valley and probably wish to stay there longer taking in its beauty. Unfortunately the *curse* part is also all too real these days with people moving to Boulder, Longmont, Niwot, Gunbarrel, Lyons, and everywhere in between not only is the development hard on the land and natural resources but it’s taking away the pristine sky above our community with light pollution.


So next time you visit the Boulder Valley be wary of this curse. It's a captivating land but don’t let the beauty of the valley be its undoing. Practice Leave No Trace principles and limit your light pollution and maybe we can undo the curse.




Read more:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curse_of_the_Boulder_Valley


https://www.nps.gov/sand/learn/historyculture/index.htm


https://web.archive.org/web/20110719202332/http://www.getboulder.com/visitors/articles/southernarapahoe.html


This post was taken heavily from the Visit Longmont article below. I think the original ending is hilarious how it says this land is cursed because people keep coming here soooooo... you should come here too 😊

https://www.visitlongmont.org/things-to-do/museums-history/haunted-history/chief-niwot-and-the-left-hand-curse/

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  • Luke

Watching the sky just after sunset you may be noticing the brightest star that appears over the western horizon. This “star” is actually a planet, Venus.



cloud patterns on Venus

Venus is the third brightest naturally occurring object in our sky (after the Sun and Moon) due to having a thick atmosphere with clouds that reflect sunlight really well. Venus is the closest planet to the Earth and about the same size as Earth both of which also attribute to its brightness.



Venus's movement in the sky over months


The key to understanding Venus’s movement in our sky is to remember it’s an interior planet which means it travels around closer to the Sun in an orbit interior to ours. It takes Venus a little over 7 months to travel around the Sun where it takes Earth 12 months. This means every year Venus will pass us on the inside lane at least once. Right now Venus is catching up and will pass us on the inside lane on January 9th 2022. This is called ‘inferior solar conjunction’ and means the Sun, Venus, and Earth will be in alignment. We won’t be able to see it pass us as it will be too close to the Sun to observe. Here in the Front Range, we will stop being able to see Venus in our evening sky in late December due to the mountains covering anything low on the western horizon.


We can’t watch Venus pass us, but right now we can watch it move in for the pass. If you watch the sunset every week or so until December you will see Venus getting closer and closer to the horizon. A few days after inferior solar conjunction (January 9th 2022) we will start seeing Venus on the other side of the Sun in our sky just before sunrise. Watching the Sun rise starting in February you will see Venus climb higher and higher in the morning sky. Venus never travels further than 47 degrees from the Sun. Because of this we only notice Venus at sunset or sunrise when the Sun is blocked by the horizon letting Venus shine in the sky. One small exception to this is during a solar eclipse when the Sun is blocked by the Moon. Some may have noticed Venus next to the Sun during the 2017 solar eclipse.



Phases of Venus


Looking at Venus with a decent pair of binoculars you will see that it currently appears as a crescent. This is because just like the Moon, Venus has phases. Because Venus is currently coming toward us, we can see a portion of Venus that is illuminated by the Sun and a portion that is in darkness (night) facing away from the Sun. The illuminated portion will continue to shrink until Venus is in inferior solar conjunction when we won’t see Venus just like we don’t see the Moon at New Moon. Then in February as we watch Venus rise before the Sun we will also see the illuminated crescent grow larger, if we check in weekly with binoculars.



If you want to see Venus up close in a big telescope Book an AstroTour in November to be sure to catch it before it moves to the morning sky not to be seen on a tour again until 2022.

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AstroTours.org is excited to partner with Winter Park to provide an out of this world experience!




Hosting programs at Winter Park will provide us access to the pristine dark sky above Winter Park. Due to it's high elevation and lack of light pollution Winter Park is a seller spot for astronomy.


We will be providing two experiences:



1) https://www.winterparkresort.com/things-to-do/wpguides#/experiences/6ecf5308-dc89-4bd2-a002-b55c34c16123


A tour for all ages located at Hill House. Tours start at sunset and last for 2 hours. The show will explore the night sky with several large telescopes and a laser pointer. We will see and learn about planets, constellations, navigation, satellites, nebula, clusters, galaxies, maybe some shooting stars (if lucky), and our universe. Through telescopes we will get up close looks at these objects and take in their beauty with our own eyes. Guests are provided with a red flashlight, comfy seating, a camp fire to stay warm around, and hot water for tea/coffee/hot coco. Guests are encouraged to bring questions, wonderment, and warm clothing (it will get cold after sunset). Please be aware of weather, tour is subject to cancellation if it is too cloudy to see any stars.



2) https://www.winterparkresort.com/things-to-do/wpguides#/experiences/29e6dfba-7330-456f-9d87-4afd3ceda505


A tour for all ages located at the top of the Winter Park Resort Gondola. Tours start at sunset and last for 2 hours. The show will explore the night sky with several large telescopes and a laser pointer. We will see and learn about planets, constellations, navigation, satellites, nebula, clusters, galaxies, maybe some shooting stars (if lucky), and our universe. Through telescopes we will get up close looks at these objects and take in their beauty with our own eyes. The tour takes place at the top of the gondola in winter park (small ~100yard walk required, snowshoes available upon request) where phenomenal sunsets and wildlife are often seen. Guests are provided with a red flashlight, comfy seating, a camp fire to stay warm around, and hot water for tea/coffee/hot coco. Guests are encouraged to bring questions, wonderment, and warm clothing (it will get cold after sunset). Please be aware of weather, tour is subject to cancellation if it is too cloudy to see any stars.



Frequently asked questions about the Winter Park tour:


For General Information feel free to reach out to Winter Park here:

Guest Services - 970.726.5514

Email:wpinfo@winterparkresort.com


Location:


top of the Gondola or Hill House depending on tour.


About the tour: Tours start at sunset and last 2hrs. we start with a talk about telescopes and looking at a few twilight objects. Then there's a 30 to 45min astronomy talk where we will teach you how to navigate with the stars, point out some constellations with a lazer and share their stories as we let our eyes adjust to the night. Next is ~45 min of telescope time where we get to look at: planets, constellations, satellites, nebula, clusters, galaxies, maybe some shooting stars, and our universe. I end with a 15min q&a and a last few objects (I love looking at things in the telescopes so, guests are free to stay as late as they like and I will keep pointing telescopes at things, answering questions, and talking, as long as there's an audience).


Recommended night/ moon worries:

I would recommend a day or two after the full moon or a day or two after a new moon. The moon is amazing to see in a telescope but, it gives off natural light pollution which drowns out a lot of the dimmer stars and things. For full moon tours I would recommend to just book the usual tour in Boulder as the full moon will make the sky in Winter Park very similar to Boulder's light polluted sky


Will there be any hiking?:


Nope, No hiking required. You might have to walk ~100 yards from the Village Cabriolet for hill house, or the gondola for sunspot. the ground is flat at the sight. We provide chairs for you to sit in during most of the show, and can assist you getting around if needed. Most of the telescopes require standing to use, however I can show the same things in more accessible telescopes if needed, and you will be able to sit during telescope time if needed as well.


Can children come:


Yes, All ages are welcome! I just warn parents of young children: this is a late night show geared for a developed mind requiring a good attention span, little ones often fall asleep. Can dogs come:


No, unfortunately Winter Park does not let dogs come to the resort. Well behaved dogs are welcome on the tours in Boulder only.

Should we come earlier?: If guests want to come earlier to see the telescopes in the daylight and ask questions, ~15min before the show starts the guide usually will be mostly set up and able to talk about the telescopes

Can we use the discounts listed on the discount page?:


No, all discounts listed on this web sight are for the tours in Boulder only. Unfortunately these programs are ran entirely through the resort in Winter Park as such AstroTours.org has no control over adjusting prices.




We're very excited about this partnership and look forward to seeing you at Winter Park


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