Solar Eclipse Right in Placitas!

Solar Eclipse Right in Placitas

By Jim Neal

Placitas residents will soon witness a very rare event on October 14th, an annular, or “ring of fire,” solar eclipse will cross New Mexico with the Placitas Community Library being very close to the center of the path! The entire eclipse sequence will last nearly three hours. At maximum, the Sun will be over the Sandias and provide excellent opportunities for photographers with specialized equipment.

Annular solar eclipses occur when the Moon covers the center of the Sun, leaving its visible outer edges to form a “ring of fire” or annulus around the Moon. These solar eclipses occur when the New Moon casts a shadow on Planet Earth. Because both the Moon and Earth are in separate orbits, the eclipse lasts only for a short time.

Solar eclipses at any given location are quite rare, because for one to occur the sun has to be present at the time of New Moon, when the Sun and Earth are aligned on opposite sides of the Moon. Normally, the New Moon is not visible from Earth and the only time we can see it is during solar eclipses, silhouetted against the Sun. And for all these alignments to occur simultaneously over Placitas is truly rare—perhaps once in a lifetime!

The Placitas Library and The Albuquerque Astronomical Society (TAAS) will have telescopes available for safe solar viewing during the eclipse, starting at 9:00 AM on October 14th. Dark glasses made especially for the event will also be available. The Library will have these glasses for you to take home during the weeks leading up to the eclipse. The event will be live streamed on Zoom, and the stream will be available for viewing on the big screen inside the Library.

An indoor exhibit showing details of how these rare eclipse events occur will be featured in the Library’s Collin Meeting Room. The total eclipse that will occur over Texas on April 8th, 2024, will be previewed, along with maps showing optimum viewing locations where day will turn to night for nearly five minutes!

Additional eclipse viewing opportunities will take place on October 14th throughout the Albuquerque area, being coordinated by the New Mexico Natural History Museum. Look for announcements in coming weeks at all Municipal, State, and Federal agencies.

We look forward to seeing you on October 14th beginning at 9am. Be extremely careful NOT to look directly at the sun that morning without those protective glasses. It can seriously damage your eyes in an instant. Many thanks to The Albuquerque Astronomical Society for their support of this program.