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Miscellaneous

Department of tourism calendar now on-line

The New Mexico Department of Tourism’s Web site, www.newmexico.org, provides twenty-four-hour access to listings of events so that visitors and residents can plan trips to nearby cities and special events. Secretary of tourism LaNelda Rolley said, “The calendar of events on our Web site has been reconstructed to be user-friendly for anyone hitting our site. It is very helpful for all who are making plans to visit locations in New Mexico and assist those using our online “travel planner” to include events into their plans during their stay.”

Anyone can access the calendar to find daily, weekly, and monthly events in specialty areas such as children’s activities, cultural, food and wine, theatre and opera, and rodeo/equestrian. The Department of Tourism has improved the site to make it easier to access information on festivals, gallery openings, concerts, theatrical performances, and riding events.

The calendar is also available at www.nmmagazine.com. For further information about the calendar of events, call Jon Bowman with New Mexico Magazine at 827-6396

 

Stargazing in the Manzanos

The Albuquerque Astronomical Society and the Sandia Ranger District will continue their 2002 summer program of free public stargazing at Oak Flat Picnic Area in the Manzanos on Saturday, August 3. The event begins at sunset, weather permitting, and is suitable for all ages. The dark skies of the East Mountains allow for viewing of numerous deep-sky galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters not usually visible near the glare of city lights. Large telescopes will be provided by TAAS members.

To get there, drive nine miles south on NM Highway 337 from Tijeras and follow the signs to Oak Flat and Juniper Loop. A map is available at www.taas.org. For more information, contact Karen Keese at pr@taas.org or 261-0040.

 

Starry, starry nights—
A look at the night sky

Barry Gordon
Member of The Albuquerque Astronomical Society

Well, the first half of 2002 was pretty neat, night-sky-wise, though a bit less cloudiness in early June would have been nice.

Unfortunately, the second half of the year will offer nothing of comparable interest. The only things currently on tap are:

Four meteor showers—always tricky events to predict.

A simultaneous pair of satellite shadows on Jupiter—visible only through a telescope, though even a modest one should do.

A penumbral lunar eclipse—as close to a nonevent as you can get.

I'll have more to say about these events as they approach.

So what do we do in the meantime (I hear you ask), and the best answer I can come up with is, How about "young moon" spotting? In the first few evenings following each new moon, when the moon's "age" is between one and two days, it is possible—not always easy, but most definitely possible—to catch sight of the very thin and delicate crescent moon in the Western sky right around sunset or shortly thereafter.

This is one situation where binoculars are a real plus, and a small telescope can be even better, once the elusive crescent has been located. I always enjoy the sight of mountain peaks on the still unlit portion sticking up into the sunlight well above the dark surrounding plain, producing isolated bright spots slightly separated from the crescent itself. The areas I find most interesting, however, are toward the crescent's tips, where, occasionally, deep valleys remain in shadow, causing apparent "breaks" in the crescent. Enjoy!

Here are the possibilities for the remainder of 2002:

 

Date

Sunset

Moonset

Moon's "Age"
at Sunset

Aug. 9

8:02

9:10

31 hours

Sept. 7

7:25

8:16

22 hours—
a challenge

Sept. 8

7:23

8:49

46 hours—easy

Oct. 7

6:42

7:51

37-1/2 hours

Nov. 5

5:08

5:59

27-1/2 hours

Dec. 5

4:53

6:17

40 hours—easy

If you have questions about the night sky or the Albuquerque Astronomical Society, you may e-mail the author at BarryGordon@compuserve.com. [Remember: turn off or shield your outside lights downward for better starry, starry nights.]

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