Category Archives: Automobiles and Driving

Fun Photo Friday — Favorites of Sunspot and the NSO


White Sands Panorama

White Sands Panorama

Hope you’re having a really great friggatriskaidekaphobic Friday the 13th, Part 2 (Part 1 was last month).  Here are a few favorites from our road trip to Sunspot, New Mexico, and the National Solar Observatory:

By the way, if you’re reading this and other material authored by me on The Destinary website, this post was not “Posted on (fill in the date) | By destinary” as they’ve been erroneously claiming; this material was in fact reposted.  The Destinary have also been claiming the right to do so, without links back to the original and without full attribution (“by RDoug” and a nonworking link is not proper attribution) with a rather bizarre interpretation of U.S. copyright law in which they claim I’m responsible for changing my RSS feed settings so that they cannot skim my material for commercial purposes.  That would make reading my blog less convenient for you, which I’m not willing to do.  As such, I’ll be running this little diatribe on all travel related posts until they cease and desist, along with this:

© 2015 R. Doug Wicker (RDougWicker.com)
All right reserved — that includes you, Destinary

Final note:  Considering The Destinary is a site listed as owned by Sonia Bosquez-Platt of Indianapolis Tour & Travel, you may want to rethink doing business with either her or her company.

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Filed under Automobiles and Driving, Photography, R. Doug Wicker, travel

Hiking Around the National Solar Observatory


Dunn Solar Telescope

Dunn Solar Telescope

The hike begins as you leave the Visitors Center and start heading uphill.  The first structure jutting above the landscape, and the tallest one around, is the Richard B. Dunn Solar Telescope pictured above.  Inside the Dunn building you’ll see some this:

Dunn Solar Telescope

Dunn Solar Telescope

Very near the Dunn structure is another building — The John W. Evans Solar Facility.  Inside the Evans facility are two telescopes — a 12-inch/30.5-centimeter coelostat and a 16-inch/40.5-centimeter coronagraph.  I believe the following photo is of the coronagraph.

Evans Facility

Evans Facility

There are many other facilities throughout Sunspot.  This is the Hilltop Dome:

Hilltop Dome Facility

Hilltop Dome Facility

Make sure you hike around the Hilltop Dome for views such as this:

Telescope with a view

Telescope with a view

White Sands view

White Sands view

White Sands view

White Sands view

Then later on you’ll pass a WWII-era Quonset hut.

Didn't Gomer Pyle live here?

Didn’t Gomer Pyle live here?

You’ll also see a military-style checkerboard water tower.

A Splash of Color

A Splash of Color

If you get the impression that this is a military installation you’re not far off the mark.  The National Solar Observatory was commissioned by the United States Air Force.  And while the Air Force no longer calls the shots here, it is still affiliated with that service.

National Solar Observatory

National Solar Observatory

Another facility you’ll come across on your hike is the Grain Bin Dome.  The Grain Bin is called that because the structure housing the 6-inch/15-centimeter telescope was supposedly a grain bin ordered from an old Sears catalog.

Grain Bin Dome

Grain Bin Dome

Now for some more images from the area:

Checkerboard Tower

Checkerboard Tower

White Sands view

White Sands view

Tree Line Interrupted

Tree Line Interrupted

White Sands view

White Sands view

By the way, if you’re reading this and other material authored by me on The Destinary website, this post was not “Posted on (fill in the date) | By destinary” as they’ve been erroneously claiming; this material was in fact reposted.  The Destinary have also been claiming the right to do so, without links back to the original and without full attribution (“by RDoug” and a nonworking link is not proper attribution) with a rather bizarre interpretation of U.S. copyright law in which they claim I’m responsible for changing my RSS feed settings so that they cannot skim my material for commercial purposes.  That would make reading my blog less convenient for you, which I’m not willing to do.  As such, I’ll be running this little diatribe on all travel related posts until they cease and desist, along with this:

© 2015 R. Doug Wicker (RDougWicker.com)
All right reserved — that includes you, Destinary

Final note:  Considering The Destinary is a site listed as owned by Sonia Bosquez-Platt of Indianapolis Tour & Travel, you may want to rethink doing business with either her or her company.

Comments Off on Hiking Around the National Solar Observatory

Filed under Automobiles and Driving, Photography, R. Doug Wicker, travel

One-Day Road Trip — Sunspot, New Mexico


Welcome to Sacramento Peak

Welcome to Sacramento Peak

A nice day trip out of El Paso is up to Cloudcroft, then hang a right southbound to the National Solar Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico, atop Sacramento Peak.  Ursula and I have lived in El Paso for over three decades, but this was our first visit to Sunspot.

Visitors Center

Visitors Center

As you drive south from Cloudcroft you pass signs along the way that are distance-wise proportionally to scale with our solar system, with the entrance to the National Solar Observatory representing the Sun, and Cloudcroft as Pluto.  You know you’re getting close when you pass inside Jupiter.

Distance markers along the way

Distance markers along the way

Outside the Visitors Center you’ll find a rather unique solar clock . . .

Sun "Dial" with a Twist

Sun “Dial” with a Twist

. . . that also acts as a calendar.  As you can see the following picture was taken just before 3:00 P.M. on November 29.  No word on who winds the mainspring.

Solar Calendar

Solar Calendar

Approaching the Visitors Center you’re greeted by a very ol’ sol’.

Sunny Disposition

Sunny Disposition

Inside the Visitors Center is a gift shop and museum with lots of fun facts and exhibits.

Inside the Visitors Center Museum

Inside the Visitors Center Museum

After the Visitors Center its a trek up to the various observatories, including the main John W. Evans Solar Facility (the inside of which you’ll see on Wednesday).

IMG_9893The structure that houses this solar telescope is quite a sight, it’s stark white exterior jutting upward against the deep blue New Mexico sky.

Solar Observatory

Dunn Solar Telescope

Beyond the Evans facility, deep in the heart of the Lincoln National Forrest, you can see the White Sands National Monument in the distance.

White Sands beyond Tall Pines

White Sands beyond Tall Pines

And if you’re lucky, the Sun is not the only star of the show.

Lunar Intervention

Lunar Intervention

We’ll take a look at other sights around Sunspot on Wednesday and Friday.  Until then here’s one more shot looking out onto the valley below:

Lincoln National Forest

Lincoln National Forest

By the way, if you’re reading this and other material authored by me on The Destinary website, this post was not “Posted on (fill in the date) | By destinary” as they’ve been erroneously claiming; this material was in fact reposted.  The Destinary have also been claiming the right to do so, without links back to the original and without full attribution (“by RDoug” and a nonworking link is not proper attribution) with a rather bizarre interpretation of U.S. copyright law in which they claim I’m responsible for changing my RSS feed settings so that they cannot skim my material for commercial purposes.  That would make reading my blog less convenient for you, which I’m not willing to do.  As such, I’ll be running this little diatribe on all travel related posts until they cease and desist, along with this:

© 2015 R. Doug Wicker (RDougWicker.com)
All right reserved — that includes you, Destinary

Final note:  Considering The Destinary is a site listed as owned by Sonia Bosquez-Platt of Indianapolis Tour & Travel, you may want to rethink doing business with either her or her company.

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Filed under Automobiles and Driving, Photography, R. Doug Wicker, travel