Abq ground zero for solar spectacle
Unprotected viewing will damage eyes
Updated: Wednesday, 16 May 2012, 7:13 PM MDT
Published : Wednesday, 16 May 2012, 7:13 PM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - It's a spectacular event, and the city of Albuquerque has a front row seat.
The moon will move in front of the sun on Sunday blocking it partially, but leaving behind a glorious ring of light in the sky viewable from parts of Asia and the western U.S.
But the band where the phenomenon known as an annular--ring-shaped--eclipse will occur is a narrow one.
Luckily for those in the Duke City, the exact center of the band goes right through Albuquerque's South Valley nearly crossing the Sunport.
"If you go as far north as Santa Fe, the moon is not going to be centered on the sun," said Barry Spletzer with the Albuquerque Astronomical Society. "It's going to be touching the edge of the sun. If you go to Belen you get the same thing."
That central location and small viewing area means Albuquerque is the largest city in the country in the path of the annular eclipse.
The show begins at 6:28 pm on Sunday with the moon sitting completely inside the sun for a little more than four minutes from 7:33 p.m. to 7:37 pm. The eclipse will continue even after the sun has set.
As tempting as it may be, it's a bad idea to stare straight at the eclipse.
"If you stare at the sun on a normal day you'll burn a hole in your retina," Spletzer said. "During the eclipse you'll only burn a donut.
"You'll have permanent eye damage if you stare at the eclipse. That's all there is to it."
While sunglasses don't work either, there are many safe ways to view this solar phenomenon. Options include:
looking through pinhole cameras
telescopes with proper solar filtering
special protective glasses.
Those glasses will be available at several eclipse viewing events this weekend while supplies last.
A wide array of events are being offered Sunday. Bluewater Lake State Park and Bandelier National Monument are two parks offering programs for the eclipse as are Albuquerque's Balloon Museum and Bernalillo County's Parks and Recreation Department .
Albuquerque's Sheraton hotel near the Sunport is offering eclipse weekend packages.
The Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau has a list of local events on a special website.
It’s an annular solar eclipse, in which the Moon will cover as much as 94% of the sun. Hundreds of millions of people will be able to witness the event. The eclipse zone stretches from southeast Asia across the Pacific Ocean to western parts of North America.
In the United States, the eclipse begins around 5:30pm PDT. For the next two hours, a Moon-shaped portion of the sun will go into hiding. Greatest coverage occurs around 6:30pm PDT.
Near the center-line of the eclipse, observers will experience something special: the “ring of fire.” As the Moon crosses the sun dead-center, a circular strip or annulus of sunlight will completely surround the dark lunar disk. Visually, the sun has a big black hole in the middle.
The “path of annularity” where this occurs is only about 200 miles wide, but it stretches almost halfway around the world passing many population centers en route: Tokyo, Japan; Medford, Oregon; Chico, California; Reno, Nevada; Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Lubbock, Texas. In those locations the ring of fire phenomenon will be visible for as much as 4 and a half minutes.
I don't care if it is an amature eclipse, or not. I just might be there for it.
We know - lots of you might be thinking, "Wait a minute - I'm pretty sure I saw an eclipse, and it wasn't that long ago!"
You may very well have seen a partial or an annular eclipse, BUT...
In the words of Jim Rosenstock, "If you only think you saw a total eclipse, I promise you - you didn't!"
Note to self: next time remember to mention that the eclipse is coming and DO NOT LOOK at it! My caregiver and Dxxx are out sweeping the driveway and I hear Dxxx yelling "MOM!!!!" so I run out and manage to have my senses about me and yell back "Don't look at it!". Yikes, wonder how many people have no idea it was happening today and then looked right at it? It is so very blinding and brilliant right now.