With $1.4 million in funding from the NSF, Philip Goode, distinguished professor of physics and director of NJIT's Solar-Terrestrial Research Center, is leading a team in building the world's largest optical telescope designed for solar research. The image above, right is a perspective drawing of the new telescope. The light path through the telescope is shown in green.
The team, in collaboration with the University of Hawaii, will upgrade Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) by replacing its principal, 65 cm aperture telescope with a modern, off-axis 1.6 m clear aperture instrument from a 1.7 m blank. The new telescope offers a significant incremental improvement in ground-based infrared and high angular resolution capabilities, and enhances the center's continuing program to understand photospheric magneto-convection and chromospheric dynamics. These are the drivers for what is broadly called space weather -- an important problem, which impacts human technologies and life on earth.
The highest resolution solar telescopes currently operating are in the sub-meter class, and have diffraction limits which allow them to resolve features larger than 100~km in size on the sun. They are often photon-starved in the study of dynamic events because of the competing need for diffraction limited spatial resolution, short exposure times to minimize seeing effects, and high spectral resolution to resolve line profiles. See a powerpoint program on the new solar telescope.