Public Star Night – November 17, 2023 – Craig DeForest

Public Star Night – Friday, November 17, 2023

            Little Thompson Observatory

                    Doors Open:  7:00 | Guest Speaker:  7:30-8:30 | Observing at LTO: 8:30-10:00

Tales of the Solar Eclipse: from Space and from Earth

A special presentation by 

Dr. Craig deForest

Our Sun, like most stars, has an ultra-hot atmosphere (the “corona”).  The solar corona is visible during solar eclipses, but it is present in the sky all the time.  The outer reaches of the corona are continuously expanding, carrying material away from the Sun at mind-bending speeds of hundreds of miles per second.  That material (the “solar wind”) sweeps over everything in its path with a gentle but relentless effect. The corona is visible to the naked eye only during an eclipse.

Scientifically, we observe the corona with esoteric instruments called “coronagraphs”.  One such instrument is “PUNCH”, a NASA mission I am leading, which will produce 3-D movies of the corona and solar wind starting in 2025.  Another, much more accessible to amateur astronomers, is “CATEcor”, a prototype 3-D printed coronagraph that SwRI developed and deployed at the recent annular solar eclipse.

Dr deForest will talk about the wonder of the corona in our midst, how PUNCH will change the way we understand it, and how we photographed it with student-accessible equipment that was 3-D printed and assembled with home/hobbyist techniques.

Following the talk by Dr deForest, the observatory will be open for public viewing through our telescopes, weather permitting.

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