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NMSU Ag Science Center preparing for Saturday’s annular solar eclipse

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This Saturday, October 14, 2023 a solar eclipse will pass over New Mexico, its path of full visibility will go from northwest New Mexico to southeast New Mexico.  “Artesia will be a prime spot to see the eclipse”, says Tricia Monk, Research Associate at the NMSU Agricultural Science Center at Artesia. “We should see the full eclipse for about 4 minutes Saturday morning.”

 A solar eclipse happens when the sun, moon and Earth all align.  The moon is much smaller than the sun, but it is so much closer, that they appear to be about the same size.  The eclipse this weekend is not a total solar eclipse blocking the entire sun, but an annular solar eclipse.  When the moon, sun and Earth align, the moon will appear to be slightly smaller than the sun, leaving about 6% of the sun still visible as a “ring of fire”. “An annular eclipse only occurs about every 40 years”, says Dr Juie Shetye, a NMSU assistant professor of Astronomy. It is a once in a lifetime thing.

During the eclipse, the day will darken fairly quickly.  There may also be a drop in temperature of up to 20 degrees. Dr Shetye and her students will be conducting research at the NMSU Agricultural Science Center at Artesia during the eclipse.  Her research will include launching some high-altitude scientific balloons that carry sensors to measure how the Earth’s atmosphere is changing when the eclipse happens.  Dr Shetye says, “these changes can possibly affect pets and bird behavior.  They may get confused with it becoming dark so fast.  Birds may stop flying and chirping.”  She plans to bring her dogs along to see how they are affected as well.

The Agricultural Science Center at Artesia, 67 E Four Dinkus Rd, will be open to the public from 9am-12pm for eclipse viewing.  You can see the scientific balloons being launched and there will be limited sunspotter and solar eclipse glasses as well as some binoculars that can be used to view the eclipse.  The peak time for totality will be at 10:40am lasting about 4 minutes.  There will be limited seating, please bring a camp/folding chair if you would like to sit.  If you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, please contact the Ag Science Center at (575) 748-1228.

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