National Solar Observatory

Near Cloudcroft,  NM

August 15, 2003

cone 21K

tall  21K

On an easy driving day I had a opportunity to visit the National Solar Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico.  This is about a 30 minute drive from the small mountain town of Cloudcroft, NM and that about 30 minutes from Alomogordo.  There are 5 telescopes perched here atop Sacramento Peak in the Sacramento Mountains.  This spot was chosen because it is away from pollution from the cities, the air is thinner, and sometimes it is above the clouds.  The first telescope is the Evans Solar Facility built in 1952.  It has 2 telescopes used mainly to look at the corona of the sun.    The second picture is the Dunn Solar Telescope.  It is actually 300 feet tall.  That is the length of a football field stood on end.  Only the top third sticks above ground the rest is in a deep hole in the mountain.  They are studying the corona and with this instrument.  Below is the Grain Bin Dome.  It was the first telescope install on the mountain in 1950.  The building was made from a grain bin the team ordered from the Sears catalog.  It was then adapted to rotate and open as needed for the telescope.  Now there is a night time telescope in there to look at the stars.  When I was visiting today the clouds were very thick and it even tried to rain while I was there.  The view of the sun was not really good, maybe next time.

tank scope 26K

cloudy day  16K

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