Sky watchers and astronomy enthusiasts in El Paso and Southern New Mexico have a somewhat rare celestial event to look forward to on Saturday, October 14 — the Ring of Fire solar eclipse.

Also known as an annular eclipse, the ring of fire occurs when the moon passes in front of the sun, partially blocking its radiant face, leaving a luminous ring, or "ring of fire," around the edges.

And our region is in a prime position to see it with our own eyes. But not with the naked eye. More on best viewing practices below.

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When to Witness the Magic of the Cosmos

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Getty Images

According to the National Weather Service El Paso, a partial solar eclipse will move across El Paso and Las Cruces from approximately 9:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

“El Paso will have 85% of the sun covered by the moon at around 10:40 a.m. Las Cruces will see slightly more coverage since it is a little further north, but [it will] probably be less than 1% greater since the eclipse path is almost parallel to El Paso.”

If partial isn’t good enough for you, then head to Roswell, Farmington or Carlsbad, New Mexico. “Farmington will see the full eclipse around 10:35 a.m. and Carlsbad will view the full eclipse around 11:45 a.m.,” per the Las Cruces Sun-News.

If you miss it, you’ll have to wait another 16 years. USA Today says the next annular eclipse viewable in the U.S. won’t happen until 2039.

Safety First

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Getty Images

As thrilling a sight as something called “the ring of fire” promises to be, remember, safety first.

Staring at the sun during an eclipse without proper eyewear is like trying to eat a raw cactus needles and all – it's a bad idea.

As Johnny Cash famously sang: It burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire. The ring of fire. To safely witness the eclipse and prevent the possibility of going blind (also no bueno), it is essential to have proper eye protection, such as eclipse glasses or a solar viewer.

No, sunglasses are not good enough, and cupping your hand over your eyes is an even worse idea.

Free Viewing Glasses, Viewing Event

Jongsun Lee via Unsplash
Jongsun Lee via Unsplash

El Paso Community College is having a free NASA-affiliated Annular Eclipse Event from 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Transmountain Campus. Attendees will be able to view the ring of fire through Solar-filtered telescopes.

The El Paso Public Libraries will be giving away free eclipse viewing glasses starting at 10 a.m. One pair of glasses per family. In addition, select branches will be doing free story time, crafts, and programming associated with the eclipse.

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