ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – On October 14, the 2023 annular solar eclipse will be in view from New Mexico during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. It won’t be a total solar eclipse, but Balloon Fiesta officials have had the sun’s path on their radar for a while now.
“The annular eclipse for 2023 first came up on our radar about four or five years ago. People were looking ahead to see what was going to be happening and we all of a sudden realized, oh hey! This is going to be occurring the same day as Balloon Fiesta,” said Tom Garrity, Balloon Fiesta spokesperson.
Since then, they’ve been gearing up for the day when the solar eclipse will shed a whole different light on the early morning ascension. “We’re going to be launching the balloons starting at 7:00 a.m., we’ll have about 500 plus hot air balloons taking off in classic mass ascension fashion, and our launch window goes until about 10:00 a.m. and so during that time of course it’s about 9:13 is when the annular eclipse starts,” said Garrity.
Balloon Fiesta is partnering with NASA this year. They are working together to give out 100,000 solar glasses to people coming to the field to see the celestial event.
The last time there was a solar eclipse over the U.S. was in 2017. NASA warns if you miss it, you won’t see one until 2044.
If you do catch the upcoming eclipse, experts are urging caution. “The sun emits very intense energy; a lot of that energy is in the visible light spectrum, so that’s light that we can see but it’s several thousand times brighter than any light source we have on Earth,” said Bob Avery, professor of ophthalmology at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.
Avery says looking at the sun during the eclipse without special eyewear, even just for a few seconds can cause damage to your retina leading to a permanent blind spot in your vision that has no cure.
He also says it’s important to get eclipse glasses or solar filters from a reputable source in order to fully and safely enjoy the event.
Balloon Fiesta officials say they will also have 72 hot air balloons on static display on the field while the eclipse is going on. NASA will also have a tent on the field.