Albuquerque's high desert location makes for clear skies and calm weather much of the year. This spring, it will be the place to be for astronomy buffs and amateur star gazers alike. Two astronomical "close encounters" will take place - and both are visible in Albuquerque.
On Sunday, May 20, 2012 there is an unusual solar event called an "annular eclipse." During an annular eclipse, the moon covers most of the sun's disk leaving a thin ring of light around the edge. Albuquerque is one of only a few places to see it, and is the most convenient viewing location to travel to.
Photo by sancho_panza, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
- Sun will be low on the horizon for the event.
- The centerline for the event passes nearly through the Albuquerque International Airport. Any location in the metro area will provide an excellent view of the eclipse.
- The viewing area must be high enough to see Mt. Taylor, which is 60 miles (100 km) west of Albuquerque.
- 1st contact is at 6:28pm (MDT) when the moon first begins to cover the sun.
- 2nd contact at 7:33pm (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.
- 3rd contact at 7:38pm 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 8:20pm before the eclipse is over.
Another solar event will take place just two weeks later on Tuesday, June 5th. This event is a Transit of Venus; where the planet Venus visibly and slowly moves across the disk of the sun. This won't happen again until 2117. If you miss this, you will never see it again in your lifetime...and it is also viewed perfectly in Albuquerque.