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Sun-Earth Day Presents: Ancient Observatories, Timeless Knowledge

Technology Through Time: Issue #3, Big Bear Solar Observatory

In search of the best place to study the sun, astronomers place their observatories on mountaintops, in arid regions...or even in the middle of a lake!


Big Bear Lake, California
Latitude: 34° 15.2' N;
Longitude: 116° 54.9' W;
Altitude: 2067 meters


The Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) exploits the excellent climatic conditions of Big Bear Lake to study the Sun, source of life on Earth. The observatory is located in the middle of Big Bear Lake to reduce the image distortion, which usually occurs when the Sun heats the ground and produces convection in the air just above the ground.

The Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) is operated by the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). Their main interest is the physics of the Sun and they observe solar phenomena every day with their dedicated telescopes and instruments. In addition to their own instruments they host two different helioseismology experiments; the TON and the GONG.

The observatory was built by the California Institute of Technology in 1969. Funding for the operation of the observatory is from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the United States Air Force, the United States Navy and other agencies.



Image Gallery:Big Bear gallery image


Photo Credit:

Big Bear Solar Observatory

Technology Through Time Bulletin Board Activity

This bulletin board activity is designed to focus student attention on the role that sun watching has played in humankind's survival through time. As part of this display you may wish to use your own world map ordownload one we have created for you.

Related Big Bear Solar Observatory Links

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