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New Mexicans marvel at solar eclipse

Joy Wang
August 21, 2017 06:49 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- "Oohs" and "ahhs" were the natural reaction to seeing a natural phenomenon in its purest form for the first time in decades. Scores of New Mexicans joined the national attention to Monday's solar eclipse.

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It's the first time an eclipse has stretched across the nation since 1918. It wasn't a total eclipse in New Mexico -- only about 73 percent of totality -- but it was enough to get people of all ages to stand outside and watch the cosmic wonder.

"I think it's really cool," said Lexi Schesser, an eighth grader. "It's actually the first one I've ever seen, so I'm really tempted to look at it without my glasses. But I know it's a bad idea.

For more coverage about the eclipse, click the links below:

All across the metro, people wore solar filter glasses and looked up. They knew it was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Students at the Bosque School loved the experience.

At UNM, some professors even let their students out early to catch a glimpse of the amazing sight.

"I hope the clouds go away; that way we can see it a little bit better," said UNM student Sarah Sisneros.

It will be some time for the next one. In fact, it won't come again until 2024.

"It's a weird thing to look at the sun," Sisneros said.

"It's really cool to see it, especially that we're here together with everyone here at our school," added eighth-grader Dayle Albrecht.

FAMILIES WATCH FROM UNM OBSERVATORY

At the UNM Campus Observatory, families spent time together for the two-and-a-half minutes of the eclipse. The Salazar family knew they couldn't miss it, so they watched it together.

"It's just interesting kind of seeing the moon covering it," father Abram Salazar said. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime event, so that's really the only way I can describe it."

Even the overcast in Albuquerque couldn't dampen their spirits or the learning experience for Salazar's son.

"It's part of science," he said. "I mean teaching him, educating him on all this stuff is important to us and having the opportunity to be able to bring him was amazing. To be able to come up here to UNM and be at this event is great."

It was a chance to not just watch outdoors but look inside a dome from a telescope.

"We were learning about solar eclipses and the solar system," said 9-year-old Xavier Salazar.

His father thinks Xavier could become a scientist one day.

"I'm very interested in robots and parts of robots and how robots can help us in the world," Xavier said.

But first, he's going to get to know the galaxy with the people he cares about.

"All the stuff that we're able to know about our world and about the whole galaxy," he said.

"I'm happy that it was something that our whole family could do together, and it was something that's really special," added Mikaela Salazar.

CURIOSITY AND EXCITEMENT

In order to get a glance at the solar eclipse, some people brought a welder mask. Others used cereal boxes. Peter Sinclair, a UNM physics and astronomy PH.D. student, shared some of his excitement.

"When you're looking at the eclipse, the partial eclipse, you get to see this really small crescent," he said. "It almost looks like the sun is going through phases, almost like the moon and it's really exciting for me because it's this relatively rare astronomical phenomenon."

Even though the eclipse only happens once in a while, scientists hope this will encourage a lot more people to get excited about astronomy.

"Some of the really big questions that people wonder, like where did we come from? What's going to happen to us? And are we alone? Those three questions I think that everyone kind of asks at some point in their lives," Sinclair said. "And astronomy really helps us get a picture of that in some of the very largest and grandest sense."

People of all ages and backgrounds shared that curiosity.

"It also just really puts things in perspective -- that we're a small planet going around the sun -- and that makes us really special," Sinclair said.

Credits

Joy Wang

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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