National Solar Observatory

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National Solar Observatory
National Solar Observatory, Sacramento Peak, New Mexico.jpg
Organization Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy
Telescopes Richard B. Dunn Solar Telescope, McMath–Pierce Solar Telescope
Commons page Related media on Wikimedia Commons

The US National Solar Observatory (NSO) carries out research into the Sun as an astronomical object and as the dominant external influence on Earth. It provides its observations to the scientific community. It operates facilities, develops advanced instrumentation both in-house and through partnerships, conducts solar research, and carries out educational and public outreach.

The NSO operates facilities at two locations, at Sacramento Peak near Sunspot in New Mexico, and at Kitt Peak in Arizona. A major feature of the Richard B. Dunn Solar Telescope at Sacramento Peak is a de-rotated 100 meter vacuum column.

Visiting the observatories[edit]

The National Solar Observatory at Sacramento Peak welcomes visitors during the daytime. There is a separate, nighttime observatory, Apache Point Observatory, located nearby. The observatory lies in New Mexico at the southern end of NM Scenic Byway 6563, about 18 miles (by car) south of Cloudcroft (on NM 82), and 40 miles southeast (by car) from Alamogordo (on NM 70 and 54), in the village of Sunspot inside of the Lincoln National Forest. Sunspot is an unincorporated community in the Sacramento Mountains in Otero County.

The National Solar Observatory in Arizona is located in Tucson and at Kitt Peak, which is 56 miles southwest of Tucson via State Route 86 on the Tohono O'Odham Reservation. Allow 90 minutes of drive time from Tucson.

The National Solar Observatory is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation, for the benefit of the astronomical community.

Telescopes operated by the observatory[edit]

Sacramento Peak[edit]

Kitt Peak[edit]



The Sacramento Peak facilities are located in Sunspot, New Mexico. The site's name was chosen by the late James C. Sadler, (1920–2005), an internationally noted meteorologist and professor at The University of Hawaii, formerly with the United States Air Force on assignment during the early inception of the observatory.[1]


  1. ^ Zirker, J. B. (1998). "The Sacramento Peak Observatory". Solar Physics (182). pp. 1–19. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°47′17″N 105°49′12″W / 32.788°N 105.820°W / 32.788; -105.820