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Dunn Solar Telescope

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Management, Operations, and Associated Projects for the National Solar Observatory  (AURA/National Optical Astronomy Observatories)

Research Focus & Anticipated Benefits

The Richard B. Dunn Solar Telescope, located on Sacramento Peak in New Mexico, is the premier national facility for observing the sun and conducting solar physics.  The telescope's specialty is high-resolution solar imaging and spectroscopy. These tools provide scientists with a better understanding of solar cycles, sunspots, and flares; the impacts of space weather and other phenomena caused by the sun's powerful magnetic fields, which can affect technology on Earth; the chemical composition, temperature, and motion of the sun and its atmosphere; and the long-term variability of the sun and its consequences for Earth.

The telescope and its associated instruments move over the course of the day, keeping the image of the sun stationary on the cameras.  Adaptive optics help to compensate for image distortions caused by the earth's atmosphere.

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

Education & Outreach

The facilities of the National Solar Observatory offer numerous education and outreach opportunities. Dunn Solar Telescope participates in NSO programs to provide hands-on education and training for all levels of students and teachers as well as educational materials for classroom use.

The activities include the computer-based Data and Activities for Solar Learning for use in the classroom; "Ask Mr. Sunspot!"--a solar system model; and NSF-supported Research Experiences for Teachers, in which K-12 teachers conduct hands-on research at the observatory, alongside professional astronomers and engineers.

For higher education students, the observatory offers the opportunity to study and train with professional mentors--through NSF-sponsored Research Experiences for Undergraduates, and summer research assistantships for graduate students.

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  • Dunn solar telescope

Award Highlights Related to This Asset

Two composite images by IBIS spanning 240 arc-seconds (almost 14 times the diameter of Earth) were made using a new high-speed camera.

Upgrading Instruments at the National Solar Observatory

Continuing improvements yield increased capabilities for all solar scientists ...

Research Areas: Astronomy & Space

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