Public Star Night – Friday, November 17, 2023 – Dr Craig deForest

The Little Thompson Observatory

      850 Spartan Ave. Berthoud, CO 80513  

           Bringing science and math down to earth!


        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 Corona: 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.

Dr. Craig DeForest has been studying the Sun and its hot atmosphere — the corona — since the late 20th century.  He is known for his work probing field-matter interactions through imaging and spectral imaging of the corona.  He has flown multiple instruments into space, and leads a team of roughly 20 scientists at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder.  He is Principal Investigator of the Polarimeter to UNify the Corona and Heliosphere (PUNCH), a NASA mission dedicated to photographing the solar wind itself as it separates from solar corona.

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

For more information, please visit the LTO web site at

Posted in LTO News