Observing the Sun from the mountaintops

In Climax, Colorado, Walter Orr Roberts ran a one-person solar observing station at 11,500 feet while his wife, Janet Roberts, managed the living quarters. Using a coronagraph (a specialized telescope for observing the Sunís outer atmosphere), he discovered a link between solar flares and radio interference. During World War II, the U.S. military relied on his classified daily reports to ensure uninterrupted communications. The station evolved into the High Altitude Observatory. In the late 1940s, HAOís laboratory and administrative facilities were moved to the University of Colorado in Boulder, where Roberts continued as director. Researchers continued to operate the Climax observatory until 1972.