Learmonth Solar Observatory

The other professional observatory in Western Australia is about 1500 km north of Perth, at Learmonth. This observatory is a joint facility of the Australian Ionspheric Prediction Service and the US Air Force. It is one of a network of observatories set up around the world to monitor the Sun for solar flare activity that might pose a problem for satilite operators or for long range communication. It operates at both visual and radio wavelengths. In the 1990's it was chosen as one of the sites for the GONG network.

The optical telescope is a 10" refractor fed from outside by a heliostat. The sunlight is beamed inside the building where it is split into several beams. One is for white light observations, where information on sunspot numbers and locations may be obtained. However, most of the light is fed through a Hydrogen alpha filter where a computer monitors selected active regions for flares. It is also possible to view the image with an eyepiece.

The radio observations are conducted in a second building. Mounted on the roof are 3 telescopes for monitoring the Sun at a wide range in frequencies. A 4th antanna is located outside the photograph.

Inside the radio telescope control room. Here observers monitor the signals for and sudden enhancement that might be the indications of a major solar storm. A live feed from the optical telescope is available on monitors.

Radio telescope building and telescopes.

The observations are co-ordinated and archived at Boulder Colorado, along with observations from other observatories around the world. With this network of observatories, the Sun is continuously monitored 24 hours a day.