A rapid-scanning silicon vidicon spectrometer is described; its sensitivity extends from 300 nm to 1080 nm, where even at that wavelength it has enough sensitivity to allow observation under eclipse conditions of a pair of forbidden spectral lines from twelve-times ionized iron that are sensitive indicators of the electron density in the solar corona. Past observational work on these ir lines is reviewed, and our vidicon observations made during the 1973 total solar eclipse are discussed. The vidicon target, the scanning procedure, and the advantages of the spectrometer are described. At the 1973 eclipse, the 1074.7-nm line was detected and an upper limit set for the 1079.8-nm line at a height of 1.4 solar radii. The resultant limit to the ratio of intensities gives electron densities in agreement with those derived from other methods and is consistent with observations made at lower heights; this indicates that the only previous eclipse observation of the ratio at this height was contaminated by scattered light. Our 1973 eclipse observations were limited by the high ambient temperature of the vidicon, by the less-than-optimum match of the focal ratios of the telescope and spectrometer optics, and by problems with the pointing during totality. These difficulties can be overcome, and the silicon vidicon spectrometer will be useful in both eclipse and noneclipse solar observing to map the coronal ir spectrum and also to study the [Fe xiii] ir and interlocking uv lines.
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