When is a Crazy Telescope 60% Underground? World Class Solar Observatory in Sunspot #NewMexicoTrue #astronomy #science #solar

Sign for Mars in NSO model of Solar Syatem

Once you reach the inner solar system, you’re almost there

Where can you travel through the solar system in half an hour? Sunspot, New Mexico, where the American west’s largest scale model of the solar system (and third largest in the USA) runs along NM 6563 from Cloudcroft (a cute mountain tourist town) through the Lincoln National Forest to Sunspot.

I traveled the Scenic Byway recently from Pluto (yes, Plutophiles, Sunspot keeps Pluto in their model) to the National Solar Observatory. Scientists have studied the sun here since 1952, though newer instruments are replacing some of the site’s telescopes. The machine shop at Sunspot spends most of its time making equipment for telescopes in Hawaii, and data is probably delivered to scientists over the internet so they no longer hole-up in the on-site labs. Too bad for them! They miss the Lincoln Forest.

Sign showing NSO solar system model layout

You’ve reached the Sun

There’s a small museum and gift shop, and you’re allowed to walk around the interior of one of the strangest telescopes you’re likely to see.

Like an iceberg, only a part of the telescope’s bulk is visible above ground. The optical path starts at a heliostat on top of a 136-foot-tall (41 m) tower and continues 193 feet (59 m) more underground to the primary mirror. The lowest excavated point (the bottom of the sump) is 228 feet (69.5 m) below ground. Wikipedia

Model of Saturn in NSO's Sunspot Visitors' Center

More scale models in the Visitor’s Center

Sadly, there are no guided tours so be sure to stop by the Visitors’ Center and bring information with you. Have a great time!

Dunn Solar Telescope, Sunspot, NM

Yes, that’s a telescope

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My book signing at Coas Books in Las Cruces was a success! Thanks Coas Books for your hospitality and your wonderful huge indie store #bookstore #book #reading #readingforpleasure

Kate Rauner at Coas Books book signingIt was a brisk autumn day – perfect for a stroll last Saturday through Las Cruces, New Mexico’s Farmers’ Market. Duck into a huge indie book store in the center of the action to warm up. That’s Coas Books, and there I was!

My book signing was a success – thank you Coas patrons – and my thanks to the great people at this store for their hospitality.

If you missed the Big Day you’ll find paperbacks from my Mars colony series at Coas any time. If you can’t make it to New Mexico, look on Amazon for Kindle and paperback editions, and other favorite online stores for digital editions.

Astonishing Plan to Reduce Plastic Trash – Stop Making It – Ultimate Challenge is a Cardboard Soda Bottle #recycle #packaging #environment

Swan in nest incorporating plastics

Most wildlife can’t recycle plastic this easily

Believe in the power of cardboard. Plastics seemed like a dream when they burst onto the packaging scene, but lately disposing of the trash has become a nightmare. For years, people have tried different ways to recycle plastic, but China’s recent suspension of accepting European and American waste brings recycling to a crisis point. (Really?! We shipped our plastic trash to China? Do we even know what they actually did with it?).

Scientists say the world is dumping 8 million tons of plastic into the oceans every year, and it never really goes away. It’s choking fish, filling the bellies of seabirds and turtles, and even showing up in our drinking water.

Yuck. What’s the answer?

How about this: don’t make it. Use something sustainable and biodegradable instead.

Cardboard can be cut and folded, and the shapes used to replace Styrofoam and other plastic packaging. Some uses for plastic are harder to replace. The “moon shot” for cardboard aficionados is a soda bottle…

But he doubts a leak-proof bottle can be made purely out of paper. Even paper cups, he says, generally include plastic to keep the liquid from leaking.

Plastic is so ubiquitous, controlling it may seem impossible. So it’s good news to see companies finding ways to replace plastics and make a profit doing it.

Maybe plastic will never go away, but I hope we can save it for applications where there truly is no alternative. And perhaps we can use less packaging of all kinds. I’ve read that Amazon is asking some suppliers to prepare special packaging for them so your order won’t arrive double-boxed. That sounds smart for the environment and the bottom line. When we can do something smarter and cheaper, it’s going to happen.

Thanks to npr.org for their news story.

Election Day in USA but Festival of Lights May Be More Fun – jubilant Hindu holiday looks like a fun time #holiday #season #amreading

Fireworks over a lake in IndiaHere in America it’s election day and most of us want to curl into a ball (after we vote of course), barely able to peek out at the TV to see how it’s going. Much better to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Light.

Candles, sparklers, and all sorts of lights glow to celebrate Rama’s victory over evil demons.

Diwali symbolizes the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.

There couldn’t be a better message. Clean and renovate your home and office for the five day celebration, don your finest clothes, prepare fireworks and feasts, and reach out to everyone you know from the Hindu and Jain diaspora.

Naturally, I think every celebration should include books 😉 There’s always time for a short story. Check out my short reads on Amazon – on Kindle Unlimited and KOLL too.

Three Fantastic Tales book cover science fiction fantasyThree Fantastic Tales 5 stars

  • Burritos and his daughter’s birthday party keep a computer developer from his artificial intelligence project, but he’ll never succeed without them.
  • A painter ensnared in his master’s Renaissance studio discovers a deadly escape.
  • For this micro spaceship, one of hundreds crossing interstellar space to search for life, sacrifice is part of the mission.

Dragon Bones a Fantastic Tale book coverDragon Bones, a Fantastic Tale 5 stars

  • Two desperate brothers find misery in California’s Gold Rush until a Chinese doctor promises them riches. They should have asked, at what price?

Two Fantastic Tales book coverTwo Fantastic Tale 4 stars

  • A trio of physics students find that theory is safer than practice.
  • A lonely woman on a deadly mission receives a second chance, if she can seize it before it’s too late.

Hundred Year Old Drawings Record a Young Man’s Dream #whenyougrowup #learning #school #career #history #familyhistory

Gear and Pinion drawing from a great-uncleA hundred years ago this month, a young man wanted to be a designer-draftsman. In classes, he produced drawings that are fascinating and beautiful. But the job market didn’t allow him to enter his chosen field. He did something else, fell in love, married, raised a daughter, and eventually left the family home in New York to retire with his wife to a small apartment in Florida.

That young man was my husband’s great uncle. I never heard him talk about his early ambition. By the time I met him it was ancient history. But all through the years, even when he had to shed possessions to downsize their home, Uncle Irving kept a half-dozen drawings from his drafting classes.

After he died, Aunt Mildred gave the drawings to my husband and me. She said, since we were engineers, she hoped we’d appreciate them. The drawings had been rolled up for decades, but with care I was able to mount them in frames. They’ve hung in our home ever since. Uncle Irving, you would have been a great designer-draftsman.

Here’s Spooking at You – Mexico’s delightful family holiday spreads north – it looks like fun for everyone #DayoftheDead #Halloween #festival #amreading

Day of the Dead Catrina

My own Catrina

Happy Halloween, and on November 1st, Dia de los Muertos. Here in southwest New Mexico, shrines for the Day of the Dead have been popping up all over. This Mexican holiday appeals to everyone.

The multi-day holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to remember those who have died and help support their spiritual journey…

Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years.

It’s time for street fairs, arts and crafts booths, parades, and family gatherings that promise to include the spirits of your ancestors.

Visit Silver City’s – my town’s – celebration. There’s even a Facebook page.

Three Fantastic Tales book cover science fiction fantasyI know you’ll be busy, but there’s always time for a short story. Check out my short reads on Amazon – on Kindle Unlimited and KOLL too.

Three Fantastic Tales

  • Burritos and his daughter’s birthday party keep a computer developer from his artificial intelligence project, but he’ll never succeed without them.
  • A painter ensnared in his master’s Renaissance studio discovers a deadly escape.
  • For this micro spaceship, one of hundreds crossing interstellar space to search for life, sacrifice is part of the mission.

Dragon Bones a Fantastic Tale book coverDragon Bones, a Fantastic Tale

  • Two desperate brothers find misery in California’s Gold Rush until a Chinese doctor promises them riches. They should have asked, at what price?

Two Fantastic Tales book coverTwo Fantastic Tales

  • A trio of physics students find that theory is safer than practice.
  • A lonely woman on a deadly mission receives a second chance, if she can seize it before it’s too late.

New Mexico has Mountains #NewMexico #hiking #mountain #travel

Kate Rauner and Reynold among the Rocky Mountain Maples near Cloudcroft NMI’m taking a short hiking vacation near Cloudcroft, New Mexico, USA. Here are pictures from the Lincoln National Forest. Hurray for public lands.

A ridiculously difficult railroad line was built into these mountains in 1899 to move logs and tourists. Yes, the Anglo history of the American southwest included tourists almost from the beginning.

I lived on the plains at the foot of Colorado’s Front Range for many years and everyone seemed to think that I lived in the mountains. Now I really do live in the mountains and everyone seems to think all of New Mexico is on a desert floor. America is a bigger place than most Americans realize.

Mexican Canyon tressel preserved in Lincoln National Forest

Trestle from the old railroad line preserved at the end of a lovely hiking trail. Last train ran in 1947.

Now, back to work – my new book about a colony on Saturn’s moon Titan is due out and I’ve got to get all those pesky typos corrected before it goes “live.” Read chapter 1 now and pre-order today so you don’t miss out. Thanks!