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Eclipse Is Big Business

Linda Hubley, development coordinator of the Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, practices eclipse-viewing with a pair of special shades. The museum will supply glasses to people attending its eclipse observation event Sunday evening. (Dean Hanson/Journal)
Linda Hubley, development coordinator of the Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, practices eclipse-viewing with a pair of special shades. The museum will supply glasses to people attending its eclipse observation event Sunday evening. (Dean Hanson/Journal)
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Tourism officials aren’t sure how big a draw Sunday’s solar eclipse will be for the Albuquerque area — but they have thousands of solar glasses ready for visitors and locals alike.

“Albuquerque is the largest urban area that people will be able to get to,” said Megan Mayo, a spokeswoman for the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We’re right on the sight line and an urban area.”

There are more than 3,500 glasses available for visitors and locals who want them for free to safely view the “annular eclipse” on Sunday evening, with first contact starting around 6:28 p.m. Some are available ahead of time and some at planned events.

“It’s definitely a small stimulus to our local economy,” said Michael Zeiler, an author and cartographer who lives in Santa Fe. “It’s not like an NCAA tournament, but it is hundreds of people who are coming. It’s hundreds and perhaps thousands. I would not be surprised if a few thousand show up for the event.”

Where to get glasses

  • See Saturday’s Journal for full details on eclipse observing events and more on how to watch the eclipse safely.
  • The Albuquerque Convention and Visitor’s Bureau has 1,300 pairs of glasses it’s giving away for free at its visitor’s information booths at the Albuquerque International Sunport and in Old Town.
  • According The Albuquerque Astronomical Society’s website, www.taas.org  , viewing glasses can be obtained at the University of New Mexico Observatory, the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History and Hard Rock Pavilion at Mesa del Sol the day of the eclipse.
  • They’ll also be sold for $2 at the Albuquerque International Balloon Museum shop, according to its website, www.abqballoonmuseumshoppe.com  ; call 822-1111 about advance availability.
  • They can also be purchased at most Albuquerque museum gift shops.

Viewing events

 Eclipse details for Albuquerque

  •  Sun will be low on the horizon for the event.
  • The center line for the event passes nearly through the Albuquerque International Airport. Any location in the metro area will provide an excellent view of the eclipse. Sunny skies are forecast for Sunday.
  • The viewing area must be high enough to see Mount Taylor, which is 60 miles west of Albuquerque.
  •  First contact is at 6:28 p.m. (MDT) when the moon first begins to cover the sun.
  • Second contact at 7:33 p.m. (MDT) when the moon is completely within the disk of the sun. The totality of the annular portion of the eclipse is 4 minutes and 26 seconds.
  • Third contact at 7:38 p.m. when the moon touches the edge of the disk of the sun on its way out of the sun’s disk. The sun sets at 8:20 p.m. before the eclipse is over.

  — Information provided by The Albuquerque Astronomical Society and the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau

Viewed from Albuquerque, the moon will look slightly smaller than the sun, blocking out all but a tiny ring of solar fire around the moon’s outer edge.

The eclipse can be seen in other Southwestern states, but towns in its path are in more rural areas, Mayo said. Top viewing states for the eclipse – California, Texas, Colorado and Arizona – are Albuquerque’s “typical visitor audience.”

There are several events planned around town for viewing the eclipse.

A group of organizations has been meeting since March in preparation of the event – including the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, Bernalillo County, New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science, Petroglyph National Monument, The Albuquerque Astronomical Society, University of New Mexico Department of Physics & Astronomy and others that joined later in the process, said Dee Friesen, president of the Albuquerque Astronomical Society.

Viewers should never look at the sun directly, during an eclipse or at any other time. It can damage your eyes.

The Albuquerque Convention and Visitor’s Bureau has 1,300 pairs of glasses it’s giving away for free at its visitor’s information booths at the Albuquerque International Sunport and in Old Town.

Bernalillo County has 2,000 glasses it is ready to hand out at an event it is organizing with the Albuquerque Astronomical Society at the Mesa del Sol soccer fields, called the Dr. E. A. “Swede” Scholer Regional Recreation Complex.

Attendees are being asked to park at the parking lot of The Hard Rock Casino Albuquerque Presents the Pavilion, which has roughly 4,000 parking spots.

“We expect the largest crowds to go there because there is going to be an unobstructed view of the western horizon,” said Friesen.

The event, which starts at 2 p.m., includes food, music and tents for shade. One soccer field will be specifically designated for amateur astronomers.

At least one planned event is sold out. Petroglyph National Monument will host about 250 people – including a group of about 50 from the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. Diane Souder, chief of interpretation and outreach at the monument, said the event sold out in two hours.

Charlie Gray, executive director of the Greater Albuquerque Innkeepers Association, said “a number of the hotels are doing pretty well on that weekend and Sunday night is not a busy night in the hotel industry in Albuquerque.”

“… Albuquerque seems to be dead center, and that’s enough incentive for people to want to come here to see it.”

Zeiler is part of a 2,000-member Solar Eclipse Mailing List, which includes people from all over the world, some of whom are traveling to the city to see the eclipse.

“There’s probably 2,000 hard-core eclipse chasers in the world and these are people that will travel. … Most of us will go to any eclipse that is accessible by commercial airline,” he said.

— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal

(All photos by Journal photographer Dean Hanson)

  • David Ray of The Albuquerque Astronomical Society uses a home made projection system on his telescope.

  • Mike Molitor of The Albuquerque Astronomical Society uses # 14 welding glass to view the sun safely.

  • Roger Kennedy of The Albuquerque Astronomical Society uses a pin hole viewer made from a pasta box.

  • A photograph of the sun featuring sun spots, all of which are larger than the planet earth.

  • Linda Hubley, development coordinator of the Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, practices eclipse-viewing with a pair of special shades. The museum will supply glasses to people attending its eclipse observation event Sunday evening. (Dean Hanson/Journal)

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