This season of darkness is a good time if you are interested in the galaxies. The Albuquerque Astrological Society (TAAS) has over 300 members who enjoy gazing upward and who work to educate our schoolchildren and larger community about what the sky has to offer after dark.
Programs for children and youth are in the daytime and school-based. They have a portable planetarium with seating and offer presentations on constellations and mythology. TASS also holds Star Parties – the next one is at Valle del Oro on December 16th at 6 p.m. Telescopes are set up around the site and visitors can move from scope to scope to learn about the sights each is focused on. This December, Saturn will be one of the visible planets! There is no registration requirement for the Star Parties, so show up and enjoy a luminaria walk, story time, snacks, and the stars.
The community is also invited to attend the UNM Observatory which is open on Friday nights at 6 p.m. when UNM is in session and the sky is clear (check this page each Friday at 3pm to see if it will be open). However, currently there is quite a bit of light pollution at this site.
Bernalillo County and other urban areas in this watershed are greatly affected by light pollution, but TAAS has a list of good places to go for star gazing. In Bernalillo County, one might choose Chamisoso Canyon’s Coyote Trail, south of Tijeras. In Sandoval County near San Ysidro is the White Ridge Bike Trail. South of Grants there is good viewing at the El Morro National Monument Campground, and in Socorro County, the Datil Well BLM campground is recommended. Other sites and many more driving details are on the TAAS web site.
If this sounds exciting, you may want to consider a yearly membership in TAAS. The organization holds members-only events, and all members are entitled to use their secluded observation facility in Socorro County and borrow telescopes. Yearly membership is $30.00.