About the Mauna Loa Solar Observatory

The Mauna Loa Solar Observatory (MLSO) occupies part of the NOAA Mauna Loa research site located on the flank of Mauna Loa at an elevation of 3440 meters on the island of Hawaii. It is operated by the High Altitude Observatory, a division of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, which is located in Boulder, Colorado.

Design of a Highly Efficient Polychromatic Full-Stokes Polarization Modulator for the CRISP Imaging Spectrometer

Graphic image depicting spectro-polarimetric data
Tuesday, February 2, 2021

In 2014 HAO built a polarimetric modulator for the CRISP instrument on the Swedish 1-m Solar Telescope in La Palma, using the principles of polychromatic modulation previously developed by HAO scientists. This paper discusses the processes by which the modulator was designed, built, and tested.

Boulder scientists’ work lead to astonishing images of sun’s surface

ViSP spectrograph system from from the DKIST

The highest resolution images of the solar surface ever seen were made possible to no small degree by the work of Boulder based scientists.

MinXSS CubeSat Mission Overview: Improvements from the Successful MinXSS-1 Mission

Photograph of the MinXSS-2 spacecraft
Monday, July 15, 2019

The second Miniature X-ray Solar Spectrometer (MinXSS-2) CubeSat builds on the success of MinXSS-1. The science instrument is more advanced – now capable of greater dynamic range with higher energy resolution.

Mk II Coronal Activity Monitor Instrument

Mission Lifetime: May 1969 through September 1978

MLSO Honors the Sun at AstroDay West

Radio dish

On October 6th, the MLSO staff participated in AstroDay 2018, an educational outreach event coordinated by the Mauna Kea Observatories. 3,000 people attended. This was the second occurrence of this event, located in Kailua-Kona, on the west side of Hawaii Island.

The 2017 Total Eclipse was a Life-changing Four Minutes

Jenna Samra, taken while mid-flight on the Gulfstream V research aircraft

Jenna Samra had a very extraordinary scientific research experience while visiting Colorado this summer. The recent August 21 total solar eclipse provided Jenna a unique opportunity to test an instrument that she helped design and build, the airborne infrared spectrometer or AIR-Spec.

A bumper crop of HAO summer interns!

Summer Interns

Summer, 2017—We hosted twelve summer students at HAO. They worked on a range of projects, from building telescopes to employing numerical models to analyzing observations and simulation data. Meet the students and hear their stories.

On the Connection between Propagating Solar Coronal Disturbances and Chromospheric Footpoints

SDO/AIA 171Å sub-fields
Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) provides an unparalleled opportunity to explore the (thermal) interface between the chromosphere, transition region, and the coronal plasma observed by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).

Joan Burkepile

Joan Burkepile is a Project Scientist at the High Altitude Observatory of the National Center for Atmospheric Research.


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