Hinode Observes 2011 Annular Solar Eclipse
Hinode Observes 2011 Annular Solar Eclipse by NASA Goddard Photo and Video is licensed under CC-BY 2.0

With the annular solar eclipse coming Oct. 14, local residents will have many chances to see it – which is a good thing since it won’t return to New Mexico until 2077.

The eclipse will start about 9:13 a.m. and will reach its maximum eclipse ring about 10:36 a.m.

Experts say viewers should never take in the eclipse with a naked, unprotected eye. Even wearing multiple pairs of sunglasses will not protect your eyes from the eclipse. But there are plenty of opportunities to safely view the daytime fireworks.

“I would recommend everybody to go out and get a pair of eclipse glasses as soon as possible because the closer you get to the eclipse, the harder it’s going to be to find anything,” said Jim Greenhouse, Space Science Director of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science.

Greenhouse also recommends going to a welding supply store and getting a shade of 14 welders’ glass.

And then there is the old-school method of using a pinhole projector, but keep in mind this is meant to project the eclipse, not look at it directly.

Eclipse in Moriarty 

It doesn’t hurt to do a little prep work so Moriarty Community Library is providing an opportunity to do just that on Oct. 7 from 1-2:30 p.m.

Solar System Ambassador Derek Wallentinsen will be the guest speaker for the library’s Ring of Fire Eclipse Prep session.

Wallentinsen, who grew up in New Mexico, started sharing his love of the sky early, with family and friends using his home-built telescope in backyards in Albuquerque, then astronomy club star parties, followed by teaching astronomy, physics, chemistry, and math. He earned his Master of Science degree in astrophysics and worked for a major telescope manufacturer for the pro-amateur market and participated in many of the company’s outreach events.

He later began volunteering with the National Park Service’s National Science Foundation (NPS-NSF) AstroVIP outreach program as a “Dark Ranger,” and gave interpretive talks at national parks. He is now the Astronomer in Residence at Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona continues inspiring everyone to keep looking up at the stars and to preserve dark skies here on earth.

As for the eclipse itself, Moriarty will be the hub of academic attention as professors, graduate students and undergrad college students will be visiting from Oct. 11-15 for scientific studies related to the event.

They will be working on an outreach and research project by NASA with a goal to engage students in science via a NASA-like mission. 

Meteorology professor Dr. Eric Kelsey of Plymouth State reached out to Moriarty-Edgewood School District’s Natalie Romero, director of Learning Services, in April to see if they could use space around Moriarty Schools to conduct on the Solar Eclipse.

They will be releasing weather balloons throughout the eclipse to collect temperature, humidity, wind, and pressure data from the ground to observe atmospheric changes caused by the reduction in solar radiation during the eclipse. They are going to provide educational outreach to students during the day on Friday while teams are launching. 

“Our science classes and elementary will walk over on Friday (Oct. 13) and they’re excited to talk to them about the weather balloons and what kind of data they’re taking,” said Natalie Romero, adding it will be open to most students around the schools in Moriarty. 

Salinas Pueblos Missions National Monument Takes on the Eclipse

Don’t worry Mountainair, we have some eclipse fun for you as well. The Salinas Pueblos Missions National Monument is set to host an event for the Solar Eclipse and is well positioned for some prime viewing, said Alex Arnold, Chief of Interpretation and Visitor Service.

“Salinas Pueblo Missions will be directly in the middle of the line of site for the annular eclipse,” he said. “This means, the moon passes between the sun and the Earth. The moon momentarily blocks the sun creating a shadow on Earth. Since the moon is not extremely close to the Earth in its orbit, this is an annular eclipse and not a total solar eclipse.

The event will be held across South Ripley Street from park headquarters at Monte Alto Plaza. There will be telescopes projecting the eclipse to a TV, viewing glasses to view the eclipse with your eyes, an eclipse photo station, and other fun eclipse demonstrations. 

The Salinas National Monument is hoping to have around 500 viewing glasses at the event so everyone could have the chance to take a peek at the eclipse.

Los Vecinos Community Center 

The eclipse coincides with the annual East Mountain Celebration from 8 a.m.-noon at the Los Vecinos Community Center in Tijeras, so organizers combined the two events.

The East Mountains Celebration will feature local vendors, food, a mimosa bar, activities for kids, as well as a viewing of the rare celestial event.

Among the many vendors at the celebration, East Mountain Historical Society will focus on the eclipse.

“We’re going to have some of our own eclipse viewing glasses and we’ll also have activities for kids that are history related,” said Debbie Post, Secretary/Program Chair of the East Mountain Historical Society.

When visiting the Historical Society’s booth you can also take the time to learn about history throughout the East Mountains. 

Bernalillo County representatives also will have eclipse glasses to hand out so people can take a glance at the sky in a safe way. The event and parking will be free and filled with fun for the whole family. 

For folks who are going to be in Albuquerque for the day, here are a few other suggestions:

Eclipse at the Balloon Museum

The museum is shooting for the stars while partnering with NASA, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere with a goal to make a fun, family-friendly event, but also with the hope that the sun gazing is done safely. 

Viewers can join the natural history museum staff at the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum to watch the eclipse and Greenhouse will be on hand and joined by other astronomy educators from across the country to help at this event. 

There will also be an opportunity to watch the eclipse along with a bunch more activities inside the balloon museum, where NASA TV will be doing a live broadcast. 

Other day’s other events a continuous planetarium presentation about the eclipse and hanging activities in the museum including a one-a-kind lunar floor map. Additionally, the natural history museum’s science team will have a booth set up at the balloon museum to answer questions and hand out eclipse glasses. 

Viewing at UNM

The UNM Physics and Astronomy Department is hosting a free gathering at Johnson Field, starting at 8:30 a.m. 

They will be handing out free eclipse glasses and field maps on the southwest side of the field. They will also show you how to view the eclipse using a pinhole camera. 

Throughout the day, there will be chances to learn about what astronomers hope to glean about the sun during the eclipse. There will also be tips on how to safely take pictures of the eclipse from an expert photographer.

“We’re going to have telescopes on the field that people can look at the sun through, they will be equipped with solar filters,” said Jessica Dowell, Senior Lecturer at the University of New Mexico. 

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