Sunspot, New Mexico

SUNSPOT

     One of the things I don't like about flying in an airplane is that, technically, I'm not on the planet anymore. I don't think we have any business being up that high unless we have a signed note from God saying its okay. This whole idea of exploring the world outside our atmosphere is overrated. We should just stay put and quit messing around before we all get in a lot of trouble.

QUICK STATS

  • COUNTY:  Otero
  • LOCATION:  16 miles south of Cloudcroft
  • NAME ORIGIN:  Named for a solar phenomenon; the Sunspot Observatory is here
  • POST OFFICE: 1953-present

    Maybe I'm paranoid, but I'm not about to go interfering with things that are more powerful than me. Like the sun. Truth is, the sun is just a big bully in the sky intent on picking on us. It keeps us alive, but only if we show it the proper respect:  don't go outside without sunblock, don't stay in direct sunlight too long, don't go outside if its too bright, etc. Don't, don't, don't.

    And then there's the big one: don't look directly at the sun. An emperor in the sky, the sun's gaze is never to be met. Looking down is not just a way to protect our eyes, its a way to show our subordination. We owe our lives to that big bully. If it wants our lunch money, we should give it. If it wants to trip us in the hall, we should let it. This is one bully we don't want to tangle with.

    So should we really be studying the sun, like the scientists at Sunspot are doing?  Maybe we should just stick our heads in the sand on this one and be satisfied that its up there doing its thing so we can be down here doing ours. We don't want to infringe on its privacy and make it mad. One little slip might anger it, and there's no telling where that might lead. Does the name Icarus ring a bell with anyone? 

    I have a feeling the scientists at Sunspot are going to continue to play with fire, so to speak, despite my warnings. That's okay with me. But if the sun suddenly pulls out of its end of the photosynthesis bargain one day, I know who I'm gonna blame.

(For a more balanced and slightly more scientific explanation of what goes on in Sunspot, visit them on the web at http://www.sunspot.noao.edu/index.html. Just don't tell them I sent you.)

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS

(click on the thumbnail image to see a larger picture)


One of the street names at
Sunspot Observatory.

The Vacuum Tower structure
at the Observatory.