BEFORE ASSUMING ASTRONOMY is one outdoor activity that doesn’t require sunscreen, consider solar watching: a way to observe the sun during daytime, along with other parts of the lunar cycle not conducive to stargazing. A timely opportunity is during the annular solar eclipse (when the moon passes between the Earth and sun) that crosses New Mexico on Saturday, October 14, reaching a maximum of 90 percent in Albuquerque at 10:35 a.m. NASA eclipse ambassador Derek Wallentinsen shares how to have fun while safely observing an eclipse.
Pick a viewing spot.The path of annularity runs diagonally from the northwest corner to the southeast corner of New Mexico. Cities on the centerline include Farmington, Gallup, Los Alamos, Roswell, and Hobbs. Outside the path, viewers will see a partial eclipse.
Protect your eyes. Make sure your solar viewing glasses meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard. “A lot of organizations will distribute free glasses,” Wallentinsen says.
Stand under a tree. “Look at the ground. The tree’s leaves will project thousands of images as the eclipse progresses,” he suggests.
Attend an event. Knowledgeable people can share pointers. On October 14, Wallentinsen will be at Chaco Culture National Historical Park, where one petroglyph is thought to depict a 1097 solar eclipse, for “an atmospheric, time-drenched view of the eclipse.”
Check out these organizations hosting annular eclipse viewing and education events:
- New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science
- Valles Caldera National Preserve
- Jemez Pueblo Visitor Center
- Valle del Oro National Wildlife Refuge
- PEEC with Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos Library, and the Manhattan Project National Historical Park
- Sunspot Solar Observatory
- New Mexico Museum of Space History
- Amateur Astronomers Group at Oliver Lee Memorial State Park
- Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument
- Capulin Volcano National Monument
- Roswell Astronomy Club