ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Organizers of the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival are expecting large crowds Saturday — not just for the mass ascent, but because of the annular solar eclipse.
The eclipse will be visible in Albuquerque starting at 9:13 a.m. Saturday morning.
“We’re going to get a ring of fire because it can’t completely block the sun,” said Dr. Kelly Couric, an astrophysicist and director of NASA’s eclipse program.
The eclipse occurs on the second to last day of Balloon Fiesta. Event officials are preparing for many people to be able to see the eclipse from Balloon Fiesta Park.
“During that time, we will do something that has never been done before here in Albuquerque,” said Sam Parks, CEO of Balloon Fiesta. “We’ll actually have daylight, dusk, dark, then daylight again and the balloon glow. So there will be approximately 75 balloons that will take center stage after the morning flight.”
NASA representatives will also be at Balloon Fiesta Park, along with astronomy groups, to educate the public about the eclipse.
“NASA will have a few telescopes to watch the sun, and we’ll have activities, things from monitoring the temperature, looking at pieces of the rocket, parts of our balloon project,” Dr. Couric said.
When it comes to the eclipse, the forecaster wants to remind the public that they shouldn’t look at it directly.
“The sun is very bright and can burn the delicate tissue in the back of your eyes, so you want to make sure you’re looking in sunglasses,” Dr. Couric said.
Balloon Fiesta officials say they will cover guests.
“We are very proud to partner with NASA to provide 80,000 free eclipse glasses to everyone who comes to the park,” Parks said. “We want to protect all our guests.”
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