For nearly three decades, Big Bear Solar Observatory has used one of the world’s most powerful solar telescopes to advance knowledge of our star. The observatory is located high in a mountain lake in southern California. This old telescope is being replaced by one with three times the resolution to enable scientists to probe the fundamental scale of the Sun’s dynamic magnetic fields, which can cause storms that destroy satellites and disrupt the power grid and telecommunications. The new telescope is made possible by pushing the envelope of current technologies, which will be discussed. The new telescope will be the most capable solar telescope in the US for a decade.
Progress in building the NST (New Solar Telescope) will be reported. The NST is a 1.6 m clear aperture, off-axis solar telescope. The telescope is scheduled to see first light at Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) in Spring 2008, and is a joint effort of BBSO, the Korea Astronomy & Space Science Institute, Seoul National University, University of Hawaii and the University of Arizona. First light will be fed to the Gregorian focus on the Nasmyth bench.
The telescope is off-axis to optimize low-contrast imaging, and will have a 3 arcminute field of view. Figuring and testing the figure of the large off-axis primary mirror presented unique problems. The NST will have wavefront sensor controlled, real-time active optics, and ultimately its light will feed BBSO’s adaptive optics (AO) system, which in turn feeds infrared and visible light Fabry-Perot based polarimeters, as well as a real-time image processing system utilizing parallel processing and a spectrograph. The polarimeters, AO image reconstruction systems, and spectrograph will reside in the Coude Room below and all but the spectrograph have already been tested with light fed from the old BBSO telescope.
Results from Project Earthshine will be reported. The Project is to measure the Earth’s reflectance – a critical climate parameter.
Pre-meeting slide show (7.8 MB)
Club Announcemnets (1.1 MB)