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Division of Astronomical Sciences
National Solar Observatory (NSO)
The National Solar Observatory (NSO) makes available to qualified scientists the world's largest collection of optical and infrared solar telescopes and auxiliary instrumentation for observation of the solar photosphere, chromosphere, and corona. The mission of the NSO is to advance knowledge of the Sun, both as an astronomical object and as the dominant external influence on Earth, by providing forefront observational opportunities to the research community. NSO operates observational facilities, develops advanced instrumentation both in-house and through partnerships, conducts solar research, and carries out educational and public outreach.
NSO has observing facilities atop Kitt Peak, AZ, and Sacramento Peak, NM (NSO/SP). Kitt Peak telescopes include the 1.5-meter McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope (the world's largest solar research instrument) and the Synoptic Optical Long-term Investigations of the Sun (SOLIS) facility. The McMath complex is designed primarily for solar observations but is also used for planetary and stellar observations and for laboratory high-resolution spectroscopy. The principal instrument of NSO/SP is a 0.76-meter Dunn Solar Telescope, the vacuum tower telescope, equipped with adaptive optics to produce the world's best spatial resolution for solar studies. Also available are spectrographs and the Advanced Stokes Polarimeter. The Evans Solar Facility is a 40-centimeter aperture coronagraph with spectrographs and a coronal photometer. The NSO also operates the Global Oscillation Network Group (GONG), a worldwide network of six solar telescopes for helioseismology, and the GONG Data Center in Tucson, AZ. NSO is leading the construction of the new 4-meter Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST).
NSO is funded by NSF and operated and managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA).