Richard B. Dunn Solar Telescope

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Richard B. Dunn Solar Telescope
National solar observatory.jpg
Location(s) Sacramento Peak, New Mexico
Coordinates 32°47′14″N 105°49′16″W / 32.7873°N 105.821°W / 32.7873; -105.821Coordinates: 32°47′14″N 105°49′16″W / 32.7873°N 105.821°W / 32.7873; -105.821
Organization National Solar Observatory Edit this on Wikidata
Wavelength 310–1000 nm (optical, IR)
Built 1958–1969
Telescope style Prime focus
Diameter 76 cm (primary mirror 152.4 cm)
Angular resolution 0.33 mas/nm
(0.1–0.33 arcsecond)
Collecting area 4.9 ft², 0.456 m²
(30 inch entrance window)
Focal length 180 ft, 54.86 m
Mounting Vertical axis with heliostat
Enclosure None; enclosed vacuum optics
Richard B. Dunn Solar Telescope is located in the US
Richard B. Dunn Solar Telescope
Location of Richard B. Dunn Solar Telescope

The Richard B. Dunn Solar Telescope is a unique vertical-axis solar telescope, located at the National Solar Observatory at Sacramento Peak, New Mexico. The optical path starts at a heliostat on top of a 136-foot-tall (41 m) tower and continues 193 feet (58.8 m) more underground to the primary mirror.[1] It then returns to one of six quartz optical windows in the floor of an optical laboratory at ground level. The optics are evacuated to eliminate distortion due to convection in the telescope that would otherwise be caused by the great heat produced by focusing the light of the sun.

A unique feature of the telescope is its approach to image derotation: the entire 100-metre-long (330 ft) telescope and 40-foot-diameter (12 m) optics lab, 250 tons total, rotates suspended from a mercury float bearing at the top of the tower. The lowest excavated point (the bottom of the sump) is 228 feet (69.5 m) below ground.

Originally the Vacuum Tower Telescope at Sacramento Peak, it was renamed in 1998[2] in honor of the retiring solar astronomer Richard B. Dunn who was the driving force behind its construction.[3] In October 2017 the Sunspot Solar Observatory Consortium will take over operations, with New Mexico State University as the operating entity.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Dunn Solar Telescope Instrumentation". Richard B. Dunn Solar Telescope website. Retrieved 2013-09-26. 
  2. ^ World's Premier Solar Telescope Named After its Creator, Dr. Richard B. Dunn, 1998-09-21 
  3. ^ Rutten, Robert J. (1999), "The Dutch Open Telescope: History, Status, Prospects" (PDF), in T. Rimmele; K. Balasubramiam; R. Radick, High Resolution Solar Physics: Theory, Observations, and Techniques 

External links[edit]