Free and Cheap ABQ Annular Solar Eclipse Viewing

May 11, 2012 by  
Filed under Attractions, Events

The 2012 annular eclipse of the sun is on its way, and Albuquerque is a prime spot to witness it.  If you haven’t heard about this rare celestial event yet, where have you been? On Mars?  Well, here’s the scoop, with my pick of the free and cheap annular eclipse viewing events on May 20…

An annular eclipse is a solar eclipse where the moon doesn’t cover the entire sun, but passes across the center to leave a bright ring around the sun’s circumference, so it looks like a ring of fire. (It burns, burns, burns…) The annular eclipse on May 20, 2012, will be the first one visible in mainland U.S.A. in nearly 18 years, and the next will be in October 2023.  Hey, I’ll remind you of that one nearer the time :-)

The 2012 annular eclipse in Albuquerque will start on Sunday May 20 at around 6:28 pm, and and all the really cool stuff happpens very quickly in the next four minutes after that.

Of course, we can view the solar eclipse by ourselves, without going to an event. But (serious danger alert!) we’re told that we must never look at the sun – including during the eclipse – without the appropriate protection measures or we’ll severely damage our eyes, guaranteed. This means using special solar viewing glasses or special pinhole cameras. Don’t look at the sun with the naked eye, and don’t use binoculars, a telescope, a camera or cell phone, either.

Don’t use anything except what the lovely people at The Albuquerque Astronomical Society tell us to use. They offer safety guidelines and information on the solar eclipse in Albuquerque, including how to make a pinhole camera.  The annular eclipse will be visible low on the western horizon in the vicinity of Mount Taylor, so if you can’t see Mount Taylor from your viewing spot, you’ll miss all the action.

The advantage of going to an event is that they’ll have the experts there with viewing gear… just to make life easier and safer. The ABQ Astronomical Society is going to be very busy, as they are everywhere. Some of these public viewings will be packed with eclipse-watchers, so arrive early, and check out the individual event links to see what equipment will be available, whether to take lawn chairs, and other details.

These all happen on Sunday May 20, 2012, seeing as the sun and the moon won’t give a repeat performance. In order of price from FREE to CHEAP:

Bernalillo County Free Solar Eclipse Event with The Albuquerque Astronomical Society and entertainment and education booths, starting at 2 pm at the Regional Recreation Complex near Mesa Del Sol. Parking is in the Hard Rock Casino Presents the Pavilion parking lot (formerly the Journal Pavilion) at 5601 University Boulevard, SE.

University of New Mexico Free Solar Eclipse Event at the UNM observatory parking lot, 1919 Lomas Blvd NE, with a presentation about the eclipse. Although admission is free, they’d rather like a $2 donation.

Albuquerque Balloon Museum Solar Eclipse Event is from 4 – 10 pm at the price of regular admission, and they’re throwing in free solar glasses while supplies last. The Albuquerque Astronomical Society will have telescopes projecting eclipse images on a giant LCD screen inside the museum – neat, huh? You can also make a pinhole camera and there will be kids’ activities, crafts, live music, and a climbing wall. After the eclipse they’ll screen the movie Contact, starring Jodi Foster, and filmed at the Very Large Array near Socorro. Admission to the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum is $4, or $3 for New Mexico residents (take your ID!) or $2 for seniors aged 65+, $1 for children 4 – 12, and free for kids aged 3 and under.

National Museum of Nuclear Science & History Solar Eclipse: A Nuclear View is the price of ordinary admission and they also provide free solar viewing glasses. Astronomers from The Albuquerque Astronomical Society will be on hand, and the event includes kids’ activities. It runs from 6 – 8 pm, and admission is $8 for adults or $7 for seniors 60+ , youth aged 6-17, and veterans. Active military and dependents pay $6, and kids 5 and under go free. Even if you don’t go watch the eclipse at the museum, you can buy eclipse viewing glasses in advance for $1 in the museum store.

These are the cheapest deals to view the eclipse as far as I can see from scouting around, but you can find info on other Albuquerque Annular Solar Eclipse events courtesy of the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau, as well as educational events in advance of the day.

–Tania


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