An annular eclipse is a solar eclipse in which the moon blocks out most of the sun, with a small ring of sun still visible around the edge. The sun and moon align in what's also termed a "ring of fire," so called because the sun appears to have a halo around it. For this event, the sun will be low on the horizon, since the moon's first contact with the sun will occur at 6:28 p.m. At 7:33 p.m. second contact will occur, when the moon will be completely within the disk of the sun. The totality of this portion of the eclipse will be 4 minutes and 26 seconds. So at 7:38 p.m., the moon will begin to move away from the sun's disk. Sunset is at 8:20 p.m., before the disk is completely over. This is the first annular eclipse in the United States in almost 18 years. There won't be another annular eclipse until 2023.
Where to See the Annular Eclipse:
- Balloon Museum
The Balloon Museum will have amateur astronomers from the Albuquerque Astronomical Society on hand with telescopes fitted with solar filters. The eclipse will be projected onto a giant LCD screen in the museum. Solar glasses will be provided, free of charge, while supplies last. The event will include live music, children's activities, crafts, and a climbing wall. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. The movie "Contact" will be screened at 8:30 p.m. The event takes place from 4 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. and is included with museum admission, $4 adults, $2 seniors, $1 kids, children under 3 admitted free of charge.
- Mesa del Sol Area
Bernalillo County will host a free viewing and educational event at their Recreational Complex. Amateur astronomers from the Albuquerque Astronomical Society will have telescopes and equipment for viewing. An area will be set up where spectators can watch the show. There will be entertainment, food vendors, and hands-on activities for kids. Protective eyeglasses will be handed out, and kids can make their own pinhole cameras. The event begins at 2 p.m. and runs until sunset, about 8:20 p.m. Park at the Hard Rock Pavilion parking lot. The event takes place at the Dr. E.A. Swede Scholer Regional Recreation Complex at 5601 University SE.
- National Museum of Nuclear Science and History
The National Museum of Nuclear History and Science will host a viewing event at the museum from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Amateur astronomers from the Albuquerque Astronomical Society will be on hand with telescopes and hands-on activities for children. There will be food as well. Lawn chairs are encouraged.
- New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science
The museum is not within direct line of sight for the annular eclipse. However, they will have activities and safety information on May 20 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Dr. Gregory Taylor from the University of New Mexico's Department of Physics and Astronomy will give a short talk at 1:30 p.m.
- Petroglyph National Monument
There will be viewing at the Volcanoes Day use area from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The event is free. Also, on May 19 at 7 p.m., there will be a free talk by Dr. E.C. Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory. He'll talk about the importance of the night sky in urban areas.
- Stargazing & S'mores at Los Poblanos Inn
The special event takes place at the historic inn, and features a fire ring and s'mores as well as viewing of the eclipse.
- Sandia Peak Tramway
The tram will make trips every 20 minutes or so on May 20. Viewing glasses will be available for purchase. Expect the tram to be crowded and plan accordingly; parking will be limited. Consider hanging out for dinner at Sandiago's or High Finance.
- Tours of Old Town
View the annular eclipse and follow it up with a ghost tour of Old Town at this one of a kind event. Advance registration is required. The special tour takes place from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Complementary snacks and appetizers will be provided by Old Town Pizza Parlor. Or just go to see the annular eclipse, without the Ghost Tour, for a reduced fee.
- UNM Department of Physics and Astronomy
Join astronomers at the UNM Campus Observatory beginning at 6 p.m. There will be a short presentation, and members of the department will be answer questions about eclipses and viewing safety. Eclipse viewing glasses will be handed out while supplies last. The event is free, but a $2 donation is encouraged. On May 18 at 8 p.m. at the UNM Student Union Building, Dr. Jack Brandt will give a talk. Dr. Brandt was one of the astronomers who helped put the Hubble Space Telescope into space.