Summer Colloquium


Solar Spectropolarimetry and Diagnostic Techniques

We are pleased to announce the 1st School on Solar Spectropolarimetry and Diagnostic Techniques sponsored by NCAR-HAO, NCAR-ASP, and NSO.

The polarized spectrum of the Sun encodes a wealth of information on the thermodynamic and magnetic properties of its atmosphere, which ultimately drive all phenomena of Space Weather affecting the Earth and near-Earth environment. In order to unveil this valuable information, scientists must perform critically sensitive spectro-polarimetric observations of the Sun, and then carefully reduce, analyse, and interpret the observed data. However, all the aspects involved in this effort (theory, modeling, instrumentation, data analysis) constitute a highly specialized craft, which is notoriously difficult to master.

Our two-week school aims at presenting a comprehensive overview of the field of solar spectropolarimetry, and the the various tools and methods necessary for decoding the polarization of the solar spectrum.

The first week of the school intends to equip the participants with the basic knowledge of how polarization is produced in the Sun and measured with our instruments. We will delve into the theory of radiative transfer to understand how the polarized light is actually generated and modified as it propagates through the Sun’s atmosphere, and at the same time we will describe the typical optical devices and instrumentation techniques that enable the measurement of the Sun’s polarized spectrum.

In the second week, the participants will learn how the theoretical and modeling concepts acquired during the first week are used in practice to extract information about the physical conditions of the Sun’s atmosphere. We will present three different spectral-line inversion codes, with guided tutorials involving hands-on activities, with the goal of developing a working understanding of these software packages and their use for the analysis of spectropolarimetric observations.

The school will rely on lectures as well as instrumentation and computer lab tutorials taught by leading world experts. The experience will not only offer the participants the opportunity to dive into the field of spectropolarimetry, but will also enable them to develop a network of connections with fellow students, experts, and mentors alike.

For more information on the class schedule, lecture content and inversion codes, please visit:

Location and Dates

The School on Solar Spectropolarimetry and Diagnostic Techniques will take place September 24 through October 5, 2018, in Estes Park, Colorado (USA). The accommodation and school venue will be in the beautiful setting of the YMCA of the Rockies, located just outside Estes Park, at the base of the Rocky Mountain National Park.


This school was made possible thanks to its sponsors, the High Altitude Observatory and the Advanced Study Program of NCAR, and the National Solar Observatory. The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Local Organizing Committee

Rebecca Centeno (HAO/NCAR)
Roberto Casini (HAO/NCAR)
Alfred de Wijn (HAO/NCAR)
Scott McIntosh (HAO/NCAR)
Han Uitenbroek (NSO)
Claire Raftery (NSO)
Valentín Martínez Pillet (NSO)
Elizabeth Butler (NSO/CU/LASP)
Steve Cranmer (CU/LASP)
Mark Rast (CU/LASP)

From NCAR Education & Outreach ASP:
Rebecca Haacker-Santos
Val Sloan
Paula Fisher
Scott Briggs
Diana Zucco

Application Materials

Approximately 25 participants will be selected through a competitive process organized by the UCAR Cooperative Programs for the Advancement of Earth System Science (CPAESS).
Everybody is welcome to apply, however, applications from graduate students and early career scientists at US Universities working in the field of Solar Physics will be given priority. 
If you are selected to attend this workshop, you must attend the entire two weeks.

The school organizers will financially support all the participants (either partially or totally, depending on availability of funds and need priority) to cover airline tickets, local transportation, lodging, and per diem costs. Therefore it is important for the organizers to assess each participant’s financial needs. For this reason, each potential participant is required to submit the following application materials:

  • A Curriculum Vitae with list of publications and professional presentations.
  • A statement (maximum of 2 pages) about your interest in spectropolarimetry, how your research will benefit from attending the School, whether you are currently involved in a project using spectropolarimetry, or are planning to engage in one in the near future.
  • Unofficial transcripts from graduate and undergraduate courses are preferred. In their absence, a list of courses or lectures (specifying whether at the undergraduate or graduate level) that the applicant has taken, and which are relevant to the subject of this School (including, but not restricted to: optics, astronomical instrumentation, spectroscopy, atomic physics, radiative transfer, observational astrophysics, quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, Fourier analysis, linear algebra, etc.)
  • A reference letter from a mentor or adviser. 

June 10, 2018 is the deadline for student applications. We will review the application materials throughout the month of June and send acceptance emails in July.

Click HERE  to complete your application. The link is to RegOnline where we will have you answer a few questions and collect your documents.

Please note: if your adviser wants to send the letter separately, please have them send it to

Logistical Information

For those students supported by the school organization, travel and accommodation will be booked through the Advanced Study Program of NCAR. More details coming soon.