Bernalillo County – A rare annular solar eclipse is coming to Albuquerque on May 20, and Bernalillo County is proud to host a free viewing and educational event at the county’s Regional Recreation Complex in conjunction with The Albuquerque Astronomical Society.

The county’s sports fields near Mesa del Sol will provide excellent views of the annular solar eclipse, when the moon is scheduled to block out the center of the sun and create a “ring of fire.”

The special event will be hosted at the Dr. E. A. "Swede" Scholer Regional Recreation Complex at 5601 University Blvd. S.E. Participants will park in the Hard Rock Casino Presents the Pavilion parking lot. The event starts at 2 p.m. The eclipse begins about 6:28 p.m. and runs until sunset, about 8:20 p.m.

There will be a designated area for professional and amateur astronomers to bring their own telescopes and equipment, as well as an area for other spectators to view the solar eclipse. Food vendors, free entertainment and hands-on science and education activities for children will round out the event.

“Bernalillo County is pleased to partner with The Albuquerque Astronomical Society to celebrate this rare event,” Commission Chair Art De La Cruz says. “We’re lucky to have such great views and facilities here in Bernalillo County to take advantage of this special event and promote science and education.”

The Albuquerque Astronomical Society will help provide educational presentations on the event.

“This location provides a clear and unobstructed view to the western horizon for viewing of the solar eclipse, and we’re hoping for a strong turnout from our colleagues in New Mexico’s science community and the public as well,” says Dee Friesen, president of The Albuquerque Astronomical Society.

The county’s Mountain View Community Center staff will have a booth to help children make their own pinhole cameras, and protective glasses to view the eclipse will be handed out while supplies last.

Experts advise it is critical to wear proper eye protection when looking at the eclipse.

“Never, never look directly at the sun with telescopes, binoculars or cameras,” Friesen says. “Doing so will result in serious eye damage. Safe viewing can be accomplished with the viewing glasses available at this event.”

Other activities for children include creating and testing paper model rockets with the Albuquerque Rocket Society.

Food vendors, music and plenty of parking spaces are also available at this rare event. This is an outdoor event, so guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, picnic blankets and to dress appropriately. Please note alcoholic beverages are prohibited at county sports fields.

A summary of events includes:

2 p.m.: Event begins at Dr. E. A. "Swede" Scholer Regional Recreation Complex, 5601 University Blvd. S.E. Admission is free.

3 p.m.: Entertainment and education booths will be available throughout the event, including The Albuquerque Astronomical Society and the Albuquerque Rocket Society.

6:28 p.m.: Eclipse begins

8:20 p.m.: Sunset

Directions: From Interstate 25, take exit 220, the Rio Bravo exit. Travel east on Rio Bravo Boulevard. Rio Bravo turns into University Boulevard. Travel south on University about two miles to the event, located at the Dr. E. A. "Swede" Scholer Regional Recreation Complex, 5601 University Blvd. S.E.

For more information call the Bernalillo County Parks and Recreation Department at 505.314.0400 or 505.314.0416.