Admiring the sky is easier in New Mexico

Ryn Gargulinski: Local columnist

Just as my friend in New Mexico would tell me to look at the moon from my California yard some 2,000 miles away because we’d be seeing the very same moon, I have to remind myself it’s also the same sky.

But it’s really not.

First off, the sky in New Mexico is much bigger than anywhere else.
When researching exact dimensions, I found the sky over the Land of Enchantment averages 99.43 times larger than the sky elsewhere in the United States.

New York City sky is by far the smallest since it wears away at the edges from constantly being scraped by tall buildings.

Northern California sky gets cropped from massive mountain mounds, a horizon often dappled with ocean waves and those 3,000-foot things called redwoods.

Los Angeles sky was shown not to exist, thanks to all the smog.

Since the sky in New Mexico is technically larger than anywhere else, it only makes sense it would contain more things. Like Cannon Air Force Base planes, hot air balloons and UFOs. It’s also supple enough to withstand those scary wind turbine contraptions that look like they just popped out of a Stephen King novel.

And it’s also a great place for star watching, as dozens of statewide astronomy clubs have already figured out.

While many folks can point to the North Star, the Big Dipper and the whole of the Milky Way galaxy, there are dozens of lesser known constellations — and stories behind them — kicking around the sky.

Like the one that’s supposed to look like a hand. According to the Lakota Indians, this hand floating around the Earth’s perimeter actually belongs to an arm of a great Lakota chief. No, the rest of him is not hiding behind Orion. His arm had been ripped off and chucked into the atmosphere by gods punishing him for being selfish.

The coyote also pops up in the sky. Not as a constellation himself, but as the one who created the whole Milky Way galaxy. According to Navajo myth, the coyote got annoyed at how slow the holy people were placing the stars in the sky so he took the whole bag of stars and threw them over his head. Thus they scattered around willy-nilly and were later named after a candy bar.

Of course, one has to use imagination with such things, as the outlines of the figures are not drawn out with a fat fluorescent marker.

The hand constellation, for instance, comprises six stars that can look like a hand if one squints, blinks and then turns sideways — or maybe views it from Los Angeles.

It can also look like a crippled tree branch or a kindergartner’s way of drawing the letter “W.”
In any event, to see it best, one simply needs to be nestled in New Mexico.

Ryn Gargulinski writes for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at:
ryngargulinski@hotmail.com