Congratulations to Thomas Rimmele on being selected to receive this year's AURA/NSO scientific achievement award and to Scott Gregory on receiving the AURA/NSO service award. Rimmele's work on solar adaptive optics and its application to high-resolution solar physics have opened up a whole new area of solar physics. The low-order AO system is now a powerful tool for observers working at the Dunn Solar Telescope (some of the results can be viewed at http://www.sunspot.noao.edu/AOWEB/), and his work on flows in sunspot penumbra and identification of sources for excitation of the 5-minute oscillations reflect the high quality of his scientific output. Gregory leads the machine shop at Sunspot and is responsible for both machining and design work. Gregory's award reflects his dedication to high-quality output and the outstanding support he has provided the NSO staff and solar community by juggling a wide array of projects. Over the past year, these have included the NSO adaptive optics program, SOLIS, site survey telescope development, educational outreach exhibits for the NSO community center, and the Air Force ISOON telescopes. Gregory's contributions to the ISOON design were key to turning that project around.
Plans for developing an Advanced Solar Telescope (AST), with broad community involvement, continue to progress. Included in this newsletter is the second announcement for a community-wide workshop on the AST scheduled for June 18th, the day before the AAS/SPD meeting at Lake Tahoe. Your participation in the workshop is encouraged. One of the goals will be to form working groups and teams to begin preparing the AST proposal. If you are unable to attend, but would like to participate in AST development, please send an e-mail to email@example.com.
As part of the continued development of an independent NSO, AURA recently formed a Solar Observatory Council (SOC) to provide management oversight and advocacy. The current members are Peter Gilman (HAO/NCAR), Chair; Loren Acton (Montana State); Gloria Koenigsberger (UNAM); Carol Simpson (Boston); Juri Toomre (Colorado); and Art Walker (Stanford). The SOC will have its first meeting in June, at the same time the NOAO Observatory Council meets in Tucson. NSO looks forward to working with the SOC as we develop our program plan for next year and our long-range plan for renewal of the national solar facilities. As always, your input to this planning process is encouraged.
If you are interested in seeing what the Sun is up to right now, we suggest you visit our WWW site at http://www.sunspot.noao.edu/LIVE/ and follow the link to the Solar Terrestrial Dispatch (STD); then click to download a movie of this image. STD has started collecting our near real-time H images and, as a public service, is making those images available as a movie. We appreciate their efforts.
NSO scientists, including myself, were among an invited gathering of 52 international experts at a NASA workshop held at the University of Arizona on March 6-8 on the topic of "The Sun and Climate." The purpose of the workshop was to explore the mechanisms by which the Sun may be influencing Earth's weather and climate over time scales from a few weeks to a few millennia. The workshop contributes to the NASA program "Living With a Star," which is designed to understand how the Sun affects human activities and our technology, and the Earth's environment.
Ray Smartt retired on April 30th, after almost 24 years of making substantial contributions to the NSO program and to solar physics. Among other accomplishments, Smartt designed several innovative coronagraphs including the Mirror Advanced Coronagraphs, MAC I, MAC II, MAC III, and the SWATH coronagraph. He also helped design the SoHO C1 coronagraph. He served as NSO Sac Peak site director from 1984 to 1993 and has headed the NSO/SP Telescope Allocation Committee for many years. His work on the TAC has been truly remarkable, ensuring equitable access for the solar community and time to develop new instrumentation. We wish Ray the best in his future endeavors and hope he remains closely connected with NSO and solar physics.
Other personnel changes at NSO include Chris Berst joining the Sac Peak staff as a senior programmer for telescope operations, and Ethan Lacroix and Gayle Moutard joining the ISOON group to develop drawing packages for the instrument. Also joining the staff at Sac Peak are Don Nichols, a new instrument maker in the shops, and Jim Stewart, a new custodian in the facilities group. In Tucson, George Luis has joined the SOLIS project as a senior engineer. We also welcome Taskashi Sakurai, Head of the Solar Physics Division, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, who arrived last month on a seven-month grant from the Japanese government to work at NSO/Tucson on collaborative research projects, including SOLIS.