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June 27, 2019 - Thursday - We were in the Big Bear Lake area today for a real treat, a tour of the Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO).  The BBSO is the premier university-based solar observatory in the United States.  It is operated by the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).  The BBSO features the most powerful solar telescope in the world, the 1.6 meter clear aperture Goode Solar Telescope.  The telescopes and instruments at the observatory are designed and employed specifically for studying the activities and phenomena of the Sun.  We had driven by and seen the observatory before, so it was a real thrill to go inside the building.

There were about 15 people in the tour group, so at times it got a little crowded.  The causeway walk is a couple of hundred yards long.  Here's Judy at the head of the pack with John Varsik, a data scientist and the System Administrator.

This is an older solar telescope that is still operational.

The building is three stories tall.

This is part of the second story with some of the equipment used to operate the telescope.

The main mirror is located in the lower left corner of the picture and it reflects the light to the bright mirror seen in the upper right.

This was our docent Bill explaining all the mirrors used to reflect the sun's image to the control room located on the second floor.

While tracking the sun, both the telescope and the dome move, so it was noisy up there.

This is Claude Plymate, who is both a telescope engineer as well as the chief observer for the facility.  Because of the complexity of keeping the sun in focus at a high resolution, the multiple monitors seen display the various software systems used to perform the task.

The image of the sun came in and out of focus due to local atmospheric interference.  However, the sun is gaseous and dynamic, unlike photographing a solid object.

It was a very interesting tour since everyone spoke in plain English about some very technical subjects.  This is an image from the BBSO web site that illustrates what we saw today.

Before our tour, we had lunch across the lake at the Teddy Bear Restaurant that we enjoyed so much when my sister was here in May.

I had their chili and beans with cheese.

Judy had their "Turkey Avocado Melt" with grilled turkey and onions, jack cheese and avocado on grilled sourdough.

The Scotch Broom looked beautiful on the way down the mountain, headed for home.

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Last modified: April 20, 2024