F r a n k  H i l l
National Solar Observatory, Kitt Peak

Frank and observer Teresa Bippert-Plymate adjust equipment in the Vacuum Tower Telescope control room.

I managed to get accepted into the Astro-geophysics graduate program at the University of Colorado in Boulder. I entered the program thinking that I was going to do plasma physics. Plasmas are electrically charged gases; there are plasmas in your TV tube, and in a flame. But then I had a fateful encounter. My professor of Mathematical Methods, Juri Toomre, told me that the Sun had just been found to be ringing like a bell, and that we might be able to look inside the sun by "listening" to it! Well, this blew me away, and I just had to find out more.
Frank demonstrates how and why the Sun rings like a bell!

It turned out to be a fascinating and thrilling ride! I finished my degree in 1982, and went to join what was then the Sacramento Peak Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico (our Motto-"The most solar telescopes per capita in the world"). A year later, Sac. Peak merged with the solar program at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, Arizona to form the National Solar Observatory (NSO). NSO is a division of NOAO, the National Optical Astronomy Observatories, which also includes the Kitt Peak National Observatory, and the Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory (CTIO) in Chile, and represents the U.S. community in the international Gemini 8-meter telescopes project. All of this is funded by the National Science Foundation. One year after the merger, I moved to Tucson where I have lived ever since.

OK, So Why Do You Do This Stuff, Anyway?

I am fascinated by astronomy, stars, the Sun, sound, music, physics and math, and somehow I manage to get paid for studying this stuff! The fact that we can listen to the music of the Sun in order to discern its heart still gives me a thrill.

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