Dozens turn out to view solar eclipse
AZTEC — Julie and John Franchini drove from their home outside of Aztec to partake in some solar eclipse viewing today at the Aztec Ruins National Monument.
They weren't alone.
Monument staff distributed eclipse glasses, and they also set up a solar telescope in front of the visitor center.
"Here's your glasses," Julie Franchini said while handing a pair of protective solar eclipse eyewear to her husband as they stood outside the center.
While standing in line for the telescope, Julie Franchini kept putting on her glasses and looking at the sun.
"You don't want to miss out on such a grand event. There's awesome things to see in our world and it's definitely one we don't what to miss," she said.
Near the visitor center doorway, Jeana Goodson received help from her son, Michael Goodson. They took photos of the celestial event by using her phone and eclipse glasses.
"I am a solar system type person. I love everything that has to do with the moon and the stars," Jeana Goodson said.
She added the family, including son Isaiah Goodson, were going to stay at the national monument until the eclipse reached maximum coverage at 11:41 a.m.
Students at Hermosa Middle School in Farmington were able to view the eclipse due to help from a local business.
About 650 pairs of solar eclipse glasses were donated by Excel Case Management to the school, according to sixth-grade science and math teacher Teri Shelton.
The non-profit organization focuses on providing support for people with disabilities.
A box of 25 pairs of eclipse glasses cost about $15, according to Shelton.
School officials changed the class schedule for today to allow students in sixth, seventh and eighth grade time to view the solar eclipse out on the school’s soccer fields and outdoor courtyard during their lunch period.
Shelton described the eclipse as a “monumental event” that allowed the students to learn first-hand about the difference between solar and lunar eclipses.
"(Since) they saw it, they have something they can relate to," Shelton said.
Some of the science teachers at Hermosa altered their lesson plans to accommodate the solar eclipse, Shelton said.
They moved up units on space science to the start of the school year. Those are typically taught at the end of the school year.
The San Juan College Planetarium also held an eclipse viewing in an area south of the Cultural Center on campus.
The event offered attendees the opportunity to look at the sun and moon from a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and the image of the sun was projected on a screen from a reflector telescope.
For astronomy professor and planetarium coordinator David Mayeux, the event provided an outlet for people to learn about the solar system.
"I would like them to walk away with a sense of wonder that nature can provide," he said.
At 11:40 p.m., Mayeux announced it was one minute until maximum coverage.
"Eighty-two percent of the sun is covered," Mayeux said when maximum coverage arrived at 11:41 a.m.
Josiah Lee, a second-year student at the college, was among those who attended the event out of curiosity.
"It's natural. I have nothing against it. Everyone has their own superstitions but it's an event that happens every now and then," Lee said.
Some attendees brought canvas folding chairs and blankets to sit and view the celestial event.
Conn Wethington wore a welding hood while lying on the grass to watch the eclipse.
"I hope the mania of the eclipse kind of translates to more interest in the solar, planetary science, lunar geology," Wethington said.
Next to him was his mother, Bonnie Wethington, who wore eclipse glasses while watching the sun.
"It's very interesting. I never seen it before and it's a once in a lifetime opportunity for me," she said.
Reporter Joshua Kellogg contributed to this report.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.