TAAS helps bring the stars to local museum

Posted by Bill Andrews
on Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Albuquerque Astronomical Society is helping run the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science’s newly reopened observatory, making the wonders of the skies accessible to everyone in the area. // photos by TAAS
I’ve always been a fan of science, especially space (my bedroom in Puerto Rico featured a pretty nifty mural of the solar system), and science museums played a big part in developing that interest. Whether it was at the Parque de las Ciencias in Bayamón, the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale, or the simply named Museum of Science in Boston, the local institution devoted to furthering and inspiring knowledge in the natural world was always one of my favorite places to be.

That’s why I’m happy to hear that Astronomy’s 2011 Out-of-this-world Award winner, The Albuquerque Astronomical Society (TAAS), has begun improving a local science museum: the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

Already a fine institution, the New Mexico museum July 8 officially reopened its astronomical observatory, which had been closed and locked down since 2009. TAAS plays a big part in its operation because its educational outreach coordinator, Roger Kennedy, is also the chair of the volunteer Space Science Committee, which directly supervises the newly opened observatory.

While it’s not the final step in improving the museum’s astronomy program, the observatory already does great work. It houses a 16-inch Meade XL200 telescope, which observes the Sun with a Daystar Hydrogen-alpha filter, and soon volunteers will reinstate a monthly “Starry Night” observation program, along with other outreach activities. Combined with the fact that the museum already has a great planetarium and has renovations under way in its astronomy wing, the now-functional observatory will help provide New Mexicans fantastic access to the heavens.

As someone who loves these museums, and the power they have to show kids of all ages how awesome and fun science can be, I wish TAAS and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science luck. And if you happen to be in the area and share my love, well, I’m sure they’d appreciate a few more volunteers.

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