If you think that Earth is the most important planet in our solar system, then think again. The Sun is the real star of the show! Without the hot ball of glowing gases at the heart of our solar system, Earth would not exist.
For over 50 years, Sunspot Solar Observatory has been staring at the Sun to understand its impact on Earth. On this walking tour, you’ll discover how the Sun influences the Earth and, more importantly, what causes it to change from quiet and calm to a violently active ball of plasma. Located in the scenic Lincoln National Forest in southern New Mexico, Sunspot Solar Observatory is home to gorgeous vistas, historical landmarks, and one of the largest active solar telescopes in the world.
On your way to the starting point, keep an eye out for the blue highway signs with the names of planets as you drive through the town of Cloudcroft and along NM Route 6563. These signs are our scale model of the solar system, with the distance from downtown Cloudcroft to the Sunspot Visitors Center corresponding to the distance between the Sun and the dwarf planet Pluto. Look out for the other planets along the route too, all placed to show their distance from the Sun. Driving at 35 mph on NM Route 6563, to scale, you are moving approximately ten times faster than the speed of light!
With a renewed appreciation of just how big space is, join us for a half-mile loop around Sunspot’s grounds, where you’ll also learn about the history of the observatory, including the various historic telescopes on site, the community of Sunspot, and our upcoming projects as we move forward into the future.
Tour Narrator: Anthony Yanez is an NBC Los Angeles Meteorologist with over 25 years of broadcast news experience. He is also a published author and a two-time Emmy recipient for his work on "El Nino: Currents of Change" and coverage of the "Old Fire" in Calabasas.