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Published March 1988 | Published
Journal Article Open

The Caltech solar site survey, 1965-1967


We describe the Caltech solar site survey in 1965–1967 directed by R. B. Leighton. The solar seeing at 102 locations in 34 sites in Southern California was evaluated by 6009 visual estimates with portable telescopes. Cloud cover and other meteorological factors were also measured, and sunlight recorders were operated at several sites. We have reanalyzed much of the data to determine its consistency and learn what else we could about the sites. The visual estimates show good internal consistency and correlation with photographic data. The seeing was found to be best at various sites associated with water, and we point out the importance of the Bowen ratio in determining the influence of water vapor on seeing. It was found that seeing at the different sites was not well correlated in time. The seeing was found to be best at Lake Elsinore, an inland sink. Good seeing was also found on the Caltech campus and at Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains. Taking into account the better sky transparency and the feasibility of constructing an observatory in the lake, we chose Big Bear Lake for the site of a new observatory. The lack of correlation of seeing with transparency suggests the benefits of several smaller telescopes, targeted at specific goals, located at sites chosen for those goals.

Additional Information

© 1988 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Provided by the NASA Astrophysics Data System. Received 18 August, 1987. The site survey would not have been possible without the hard work and energy of Ernest Lorenz and John Cowley, two men of unbelievable skill and resourcefulness. Both played important roles in the subsequent construction and operation of the observatory. Sue Werner (now Dr Susan Kieffer of the U.S. Geological Survey) played a key role in getting the survey underway. The concept of the survey, the management and organization were all due to R. B. Leighton. The survey was supported by the Office of Naval Research, and we were particularly indebted to Mr Ben Cagle of that office for all sorts of logistic support.

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Published - 1988SoPh__115__183Z.pdf


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