Solar imaging optical filter technology has progressed significantly over the past 75 years, and the ability to tune narrowband filters is particularly valuable for solar atmosphere sensing. For example, imaging while tuning over a narrow solar spectral line (emission or absorption) provides two-dimensional measurements of Doppler shifts and magnetic fields. While tuning ability has improved significantly, tuning accuracy can be a challenge over time given system actuator drifts. For many cases, the ability to calibrate these actuators in situ is convenient and cost effective (e.g., ground-based observatories), and for other cases it is required (e.g., in a spacecraft). It is ideal to calibrate in situ without the need for additional hardware such as a spectrometer, and if that cannot be achieved, the next best thing is to do so with minimum additional hardware. Two examples of solar filters that need to be calibrated periodically are: (1) a liquid crystal variable retarder Lyot filter and (2) a tunable Michelson interferometer. For the first, the filter can have a number of stages back-to-back to achieve the desired finesse. Within each stage there is a liquid crystal variable retarder that adds some amount of retardance to the stage’s fixed birefringent crystal; this provides wavelength bandpass tuning. For the second, there can be several Michelson interferometers in series each with an actuator to adjust the optical path length in one of its optical paths for tuning. The stacking of these filters implies there is a need to calibrate more than one actuator. An algorithm has been developed to calibrate these types of stacked and nonstacked filters in situ with minimal, if any, hardware additions.
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