During the next decade, solar physicists will learn more than they might have dreamed possible about the Sun, thanks to current technologies that have advanced the capacity of ground-based and space-based instruments. All the more reason for the excitement on Oct. 3, 2009 when NJIT formally dedicates the new solar telescope at Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO), CA.
Noted NJIT solar astronomer Philip R. Goode led the remarkable five-year project to build the world’s largest aperture (1.6-meter) solar telescope. This instrument will be the pathfinder for future even larger ground-based telescopes to be built over the next decade by the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST), a project of the National Science Foundation, to observe both the daytime and nighttime skies. NJIT is an ATST co-principal investigator.
The NJIT dedication will take place at 10:30 a.m. at the Observatory in Big Bear, CA. (Attention Editors: To interview Goode and/or visit the telescope, call Sheryl Weinstein at 973-596-3436.)
At the dedication, which will include tours of the new telescope, Goode will sketch the role of the new Big Bear solar telescope over the next decade and his vision for future advances in solar astronomy. Goode is a Distinguished Professor at NJIT and director of both BBSO and the Center for Solar-Terrestrial Research.
Other speakers will be Jeffrey R. Kuhn, PhD, associate director, Institute for Astronomy, Haleakala, Maui, University of Hawaii, who helped Goode design the key optical systems. Buddy Martin, PhD, from the Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory, University of Arizona, who led the effort to polish the path-finding telescope mirror, will take the podium. This telescope mirror is the most aspheric ever made. Thomas Rimmele, PhD, a world-renowned expert in solar adaptive optics and project scientist for the ATST, will describe his work. Ian Huss of DFM Engineering, Inc., Longmont, CO, who led the building of the telescope support, will speak, too.
NJIT President Robert A. Altenkirch and NJIT Interim Provost and Senior Vice President of Research and Development, Donald H. Sebastian, PhD, will speak. Guests will include members of the NJIT Board of Trustees and NJIT Board of Overseers, friends and alumni.
In March of 2008, the NJIT Board of Overseers presented Goode with the first NJIT Excellence in Research Prize and Medal.
BBSO, located high in a mountain lake in southern California, is one of the world’s leading observatories focused on advancing knowledge of our star, the Sun.
The magnitude of the new off-axis solar telescope--with three times the resolution of the one it replaced—will enable Goode and other scientists to probe the fundamental scale of the Sun’s dynamic magnetic fields. These fields are of great interest to solar physicists because they can cause magnetic storms—solar flares and coronal mass ejections-- that destroy satellites and disrupt the power grid and telecommunications.
The telescope will feature the world’s largest solar aperture. It will feed a high-order adaptive optics system, which in turn will feed the next generation of technologies for measuring magnetic fields and dynamic events using visible and infrared light. A parallel computer system for real-time image enhancement will highlight the new instrument.
Goode, of Westfield, has studied solar magnetic fields for many years. He is expert at combining BBSO ground-based data with satellite data to determine dynamic properties of the solar magnetic fields. His other areas of interest include working to determine limits on solar irradiance and to probe the solar interior. Such studies impact scientists’ understanding and ability to predict space weather.
Since 1998, Goode has also focused on climate studies in which the Earth’s large-scale reflectance has been measured using earthshine. He and BBSO researchers have spent time modeling the Earth’s reflectivity using satellite cloud cover and found appreciable decadal variation of reflectance due to cloud changes. BBSO is building a global network to measure the Earth’s global reflectance and spectrum.