Cosmic Carnival returns to Albuquerque

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — There was no shortage of telescopes in Albuquerque Saturday. Dozens of people showed up for The Albuquerque Astronomical Society’s Cosmic Carnival and stargazing session.

“It’s just a celebration of all things astronomical,” said Steve Snider, TAAS vice president.

The event was split into 2 sessions. The first included several interactive and educational science exhibits – including a portable planetarium brought in from Santa Fe. For the second, society members set up their own personal telescopes in an open space near the bosque allowing folks to see things like the moon, stars and even some planets.

“We’re looking forward to tonight – seeing the moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, any number of other deep sky objects,” Snider said.

Organizers say the event was meant for all ages, however, many of the activities were designed to teach young kids about some fundamental principles of the universe.

“It’s very important for kids to know about simple things, like gravity and realize that the simple things add up and make big things,” said Dr. Bob Havlen, a retired astronomer.

Havlen provided a demonstration about the concept of gravity. He laid pieces of fabric over an empty container and rolled marbles across it to demonstrate the relationship between mass and gravity. Despite the complicated subject matter, Havlen says astronomy is a good place to introduce children to science.  

“Astronomy is one of those rare sciences where kids can get involved from a very, very early age,” he said. “It’s hard to get them involved into chemistry, or basic physics at an early age.”

The event also included some more advanced scientific demonstrations – including a breakdown of the ingredients found inside comets. Snider says astronomy offers more than just science for adults though.

“It puts things in perspective, most of the world’s problems really don’t amount to all that much when you consider the grandeur of the universe,” he said.

Snider says New Mexico is the perfect place to study the stars – largely because of the weather. He says TAAS typically hosts “public star parties” multiple times a year where members will set up their telescopes and invite folks to come look into space.

Snider says the best time for stargazing is after Daylight Saving Time ends.

“Standard time gives us a little bit more of a window, a dark sky window to view,” he said. “It’s a challenge when it’s nice and cold, but astronomers are used to that we bundle up and get out there and observe anyway.”

To learn more about the Albuquerque Astronomical Society, click here.