Sunspot Astronomy and Visitor Center Dedication
13 April 1998
The Sunspot Astronomy and Visitor Center was formally dedicated on April 13, 1998. The Visitor Center is located at the National Solar Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico. The list of 150 attendees ranged from Rudy Cook, the first observer at the location in 1947, to U.S. Representative Joseph Skeen and included most of the persons responsible for the successful completion of the Visitor Center.
The Sunspot Astronomy and Visitor Center is the result of a strong partnership formed almost 10 years ago by the National Solar Observatory, U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service, Apache Point Observatory, New Mexico State University and the State of New Mexico Department's of Tourism, Highway and Transportation and Cultural Affairs. Funding for the project is through a combination of State severance tax funds and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act funds. The State money was used in a four to one matching program funded by the FHWA Scenic Byway's program. The total project costs were just over $1.5 million.
The architect for the project was Holmes, Sabatini Associates Architects from Albuquerque, NM and the building contractor was Cheyenne Building Contractors, Inc. from Ruidoso, NM.
In conjunction with the dedication of the Visitor Center, a 50th anniversary of the founding of Sacramento Peak Observatory was held. Former employees and residents came from as far away as Florida, California, and Washington to honor the celebration. Initial solar observations from Sacramento Peak Observatory were began in the summer of 1947 by Rudy Cook for Harvard College and the U.S. Air Force and have carried forward to present. The National Solar Observatory at Sacramento Peak remains a premier location for observing solar activity as evidenced by the strong support given by Rep. Skeen, the State of New Mexico and the scientific community.
Beginning May 1, the Sunspot Astronomy and Visitor Center will be open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Visitor Center offers interpretive information on the National Solar Observatory, the Apache Point Observatory and other issues relating to its science and the Lincoln National Forest. This summer, guided tours will be given every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Self-guided tours are available, year round during daylight hours.
The National Solar Observatory is part of the National Optical Astronomy Observatories which are operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.
Image Caption: Visitors to the National Solar Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico , are welcomed by the newly opened Sunspot Astronomy and Visitor Center , dedicated on April 13, 1998. The Visitor Center offers tours, gift items, and interpretive information on the National Solar Observatory, the Apache Point Observatory and other issues relating to its science and the Lincoln National Forest.