Looking directly at the Sun is bad for your eyes. Looking with a telescope could seriously damage your health and vision. Therefore, to truly and safely appreciate the center of our solar system, one must turn to the United States National Science Foundation's (NSF) Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope. Perched on a mountaintop in Hawaii, the telescope is the most powerful solar telescope in the world, as evidenced by its two recently released inaugural images of the Sun's fiery chromosphere.
The Inouye Solar Telescope is funded by the NSF, operated by the National Solar Observatory (NSO), and managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA). On August 31, 2022, NSF leaders, congressional dignitaries, and members of Native Hawaiian communities gathered to commemorate the telescope's almost one year in operation. Known as the Operations Commissioning Phase (OCP), this trial run has already revolutionized how scientists see the Sun. “NSF’s Inouye Solar Telescope is the world’s most powerful solar telescope that will forever change the way we explore and understand our Sun,” Sethuraman Panchanathan, the NSF Director, says. “Its insights will transform how our nation, and the planet, predict and prepare for events like solar storms.”
The first two images released depict the fiery chromosphere of the Sun. This is the Sun's atmosphere above its surface. Each image depicts 31,853 square miles. Earth looks like a marble when inserted into the frame of reference. These images are groundbreaking for the insight they provide into the well-known star. The telescope which produced them has been a scientific dream for decades. Perched on Haleakalā on the island of Maui in Hawaii, it is also on the land of Native Hawaiian communities. Indigenous leaders were present for the inauguration and are members of a working group promoting cultural awareness and respect. Hawaii has ideal astronomy sites for telescopes, but the government has not always respected the Indigenous residents.
These two images are, according to the NSF, “an ambitious, multi-decade project to provide the world with its greatest solar observatory. The celebration honored the collaborative effort between the many entities and individuals needed to bring the telescope to operations. Yesterday marked the beginning of the Inouye Solar Telescope’s 50-year journey to revolutionize our understanding of the Sun, its magnetic behavior, and its influence on Earth.” Imagine the images to come.
The United States National Science Foundation (NSF) inaugurated its exceptional Inouye Solar Telescope by releasing stunning images of the Sun's surface.
These images capture vast swaths of the chromosphere of the star.
Operated by the National Solar Observatory (NSO),the telescope is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA).