Ranger Geoff Goins demonstrates how to safely look at the sun using a specially-equipped telescope, which he will use to show visitors the solar eclipse on Thursday. Courtesy/NPS
Thursday afternoon, Oct. 23, Bandelier National Monument will host an opportunity to view one of the universe’s very special events – a partial solar eclipse.
For millenia, eclipses were thought to be bad omens, or creatures such as giant dragons taking bites from the sun. Now, astronomers explain it as our Moon passing between the Sun and the Earth, and on Thursday the Moon’s path will not be quite across the center of the Sun’s face so the eclipse will not be total. However it is explained, it is a very dramatic event.
Thursday afternoon at Bandelier, rangers will have special solar telescopes and eclipse viewers available for safely enjoying this rare astronomical event. In northern New Mexico, it begins at 3:27 p.m. with a tiny bite showing on the northwest limb of the sun. At mid-eclipse, 4:42 p.m., the Moon will cover nearly 45 percent of the Sun’s face, and at that stage, the day will seem a little less bright, with shadows a little more crisp, and sun crescents may be visible between leaf shadows on the ground. The encounter between Moon and Sun ends at 5:47 p.m., as the dragon releases the too-hot Sun – or the Moon moves on to where it no longer blocks it.
Visitors arriving in Bandelier after 3 p.m. are welcome to drive directly into the park without taking the shuttle. Viewing will take place on the front porch of the Visitor Center. For details, call the Visitor Center at 505.672.3861 x 517.
Watching a solar eclipse can be very exciting, but it is essential to remember to never look at the Sun directly, and never through binoculars or a telescope without specialized, professionally made filters. Permanent eye damage may occur. Other methods, such as pinhole cameras, eclipse glasses, or welding masks, also may be used if done carefully.