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Synoptic Optical Long-term Investigations of the Sun

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

Research Focus & Anticipated Benefits

Synoptic Optical Long-term Investigations of the Sun (SOLIS) is a suite of telescopes for observing the sun's magnetic field on a continuing basis for several decades using state-of-the-art techniques. These long-term studies will provide fundamental data for understanding the solar cycle, sudden energy releases in the solar atmosphere, and solar irradiance changes and their relationship to global change. 

A recent addition to the solar astronomy facilities on Kitt Peak in Arizona, SOLIS features remote-controlled, autonomous instruments that include a spectromagnetograph for taking magnetic field observations, instruments for producing monochromatic images of the sun, and a spectrometer.

SOLIS will complement the field of helioseismology by helping to understand the dynamic nature of the sun and its magnetic fields.  It will provide crucial data for forecasting space weather, including solar flares and coronal mass ejections. Its ability to complement x-ray and extreme-ultraviolet measurements will also be useful in understanding the sun's role in global change.

SOLIS 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 opportunities for hands-on education and training for all levels of students and teachers, as well as educational materials for classroom use.

The activities include 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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