Claude Plymate has over three decades of experience working in the field of solar astronomy. He is currently the Telescope Engineer and Chief Observer for the Big Bear Solar Observatory's 1.6 meter Goode Solar Telescope. Prior to that, Claude was the Engineering Physicist and Site Manager for the National Solar Observatory’s (NSO) McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope on Kitt Peak, AZ.
Claude discovered his passion for astronomy and an understanding of how the Universe works from attending an introductory astronomy course in college taught by a prof with an infectious enthusiasm for the subject. That led to changing his major to Physics/Astronomy and instilling a determination to make astronomy the focus of his life both professionally as well as personally. While working for the NSO, Claude was given the opportunity to return to school for his Master's degree. His thesis research focused on infrared spectroscopy of the temperature minimum region just above the solar photosphere. Results from his thesis, "Above Limb Imaging of the 4.7-Micron Fundamental Rotation-Vibration CO Lines", were presented at the 2004 meeting of the American Astronomical Society.
All through his career, he has tried to remember the enthusiasm and excitement that originally drew him to the subject and has tried to pass that along to others by leading tours of the telescopes he's worked at, by taking telescopes out to the public ("sidewalk astronomy"), joining and serving as an officer in local astronomy clubs and giving public lectures.
Awards and Recognition
Over the years, Claude has had the honor of working with and developed various astronomical instruments including the NSO/Kitt Peak Fourier Transform Spectrometer, Adaptive Optics (for both solar and planetary use), Infrared Dual-Beam Spectropolarimeters and a Lunar Coronagraphic Telescope for mapping the Moon's Sodium Exosphere. His work was recognized by being awarded the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy Innovation and Technology Award for 2001.