The Lyot Project

AB Aur Press Release Lyot Project

The Lyot Project was a multifaceted research and development program based at the American Museum of Natural History. The project achieved many advances the techniques and science required for exoplanetary science, with a particular emphasis on the combination of adaptive optics and coronagraphy. The project was named to honor Bernard Ferdinand Lyot (1897-1952), inventor of the solar coronagraph, an instrument which on 12 July 1931 acquired the first images of the Sun's corona without a solar eclipse.

The Lyot Project's initial goal was achieved: the construction, deployment and use of the world's first coronagraph optimized for, and operating at, the diffraction limit of a telescope (a direct extension of Lyot's original idea to its physical limit in application to imaging the regions around stars other than the Sun). The project used this instrument not only for a survey of nearby stars, but also as a basis for the investigation, development and implementation of advanced concepts in extremely high-contrast imaging.

Our program represented a critical step toward the long-term goal of directly imaging and studying exoplanets.  The Lyot Project coronagraph was used between 2003 and 2007 at the AEOS Telescope.  It was decommissioned and many parts were recycled to build the instrumentation for Project 1640, currently in operation at Palomar Observatory.

Much more detail on this project can be found at