Wednesday, 23 May 2018

AR12710 in Sodium Light with the Daystar Quark - 22nd May

This new active region rounded the suns limb a few days ago, and while it is small has a timely appearance with my new Daystar sodium Quark arriving also.  The view through sodium is quite different to whitelight, both from the camera and also with the eye at an eyepiece.  The granules are much sharper in whitelight but these in sodium seem to be less distinct but have a more obvious depth to them.  Plage is very obvious in sodium as are bright points and pores. This image was taken with the 60mm f6 scope, Daystar Sodium Quark and the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.  Very impressed initially with this filter, and looking forward to trying some closer in shots with the larger apertures.  

Mid Disk in Sodium Light - 22nd May

Whilst superficially similar to the white light image this mid disk shot taken in sodium light is quite different.  White light with a narrowband filter shows the edges of granules well, it is like desiccation cracks in a dried lake bed.   In sodium the view has more depth, like you are looking into the chromosphere more.  It is more reminiscent of mammatus clouds.  I need to clean the dust bunnies for the next time, but i'm pretty pleased with the view through the 60mm f6 scope.  Looking carefully in the middle of the field of view are some small dark pores; in CaK and Ha there is a region of turbulent plage, from relic active regions from rotations past.  This was taken with my new Daystar Sodium Quark and the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Ha Full Disk - 22nd May

Messing around triple stacking with the 50mm Lunt, brings out nice contrast but also highlights uneveness in the image.  a Nice take on what is a very quiet sun with just a single stacked etalon.  Camera used was the PGR Chameleon 3.

Monday, 21 May 2018

AR12710 in Sodium Light

First view with the Daystar sodium Quark this afternoon using the 60mm f6 scope.  Conditions couldn't be worse, a large part of the sky was covered in unstable cumulo nimbus clouds apart from a thin strip in the low western sky.  I snapped this image through passing cloud.  The view on the screen and through the eyepeice is quite different than white light despite at first being seemingly similar.  Camera was the PGR Chameleon 3.  Hoping for clear skies first thing in the morning!

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Ha Full Disk With The Daystar Quark - 19th May

The sun is certainly quiet, and you have to look hard for details however they are there.  A filament graces the suns north east quadrant and close to the western limb some areas of relic plage from active regions long gone.  However the most interesting feature was the 2 quiescent proms on the western limb.  Taken with the 60mm f6 scope and daystar Quark with the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

AR12709 in Ha - 14th May

The seeing conditions were surprisingly good for so late in the afternoon on what was a very warm day.  I used the 80mm skywatcher scope along with a Daystar Quark and Baader solar telecompressor to reduce the image scale.  The active region has since died down very quickly but was showing some nice activity when this image was taken.  The PGR Chameleon 3 camera was used.

Feathery Prom - 14th May

Using the Skywatcher ED80 and Daystar Chromosphere Quark I was able to get a nice view of a prominence that was visible on the suns south western limb.  This is a nice contrasty setup that is good for this level of detail on the suns surface.  As usual the PGR Chameleon 3 was used.

Close Ups With The LuntDS50 - 14th May

Using my new 2.5x barlow lens stacked with a 1.3x barlow to bring the setup to somewhere around f25 I quite like the scale that comes with this setup.  Lunt DS50 used along with PGR Chameleon 3 camera.  In the days ahead the active regions that have been with us since the start of May will pass over the suns western limb.   Hopefully there will be more in the weeks ahead, but more likely is that they will be active regions of plage rather than being pierced with sunspots.

Double Stacked Full Disk in Ha - 14th May

I'm still not 100% happy with the results I get with the double stack setup because of the gradients it creates across the disk; i'm looking at other solutions.  I do like the increase in scale over the 40mm setup I was using though.  Taken at ~f10 with the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

Closeups in Calcium Light - 14th May

Taken with the 40mm scope, 2.5x barlow and additional 1.3x barlow this closeup must be around f30 and is pushing the boundaries of image scale with the little scope.  Taken using the homebrew CaK filter and the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

Single Stack Ha Full Disk - 14th May

Once the little Lunt50 has acclimated once it has been setup it produces some nice full disks with decent Ha detail.  Taken at ~f10 with the PGR Chameleon 3 camera I'm pleased with the results!

CaK Full Disk - 14th May

The sunny skies continue in the UK and with it the opportunity to see what the face of our star presents.  While the sunspot activity has all but died away there is still the large area of plage.  Taken with the 40mm scope at f13 with the homebrew CaK filter and the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Double Stack Full Disk - 13th May

Adding a second etalon to the Lunt LS50 solar telescope through 'double stacking' has the effect of increasing contrast on the solar disk as a result of reduced continuum leakage in the wings of the Hydroge Alpha centreline.  It gives an alternative take on the single stack view.  Taken with the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Ha Full Disk - 13th May

Todays sun has all the hallmarks of our star heading into solar minimum.  Active regions are sparse, with AR12709 sitting very much geoeffective.  Flare activity is likely to be negligible from this region.  All the main active regions are now focused very much towards the solar equator, with filaments at polar latitudes in both hemispheres indicating a boundary of magnetic fields.  The 2 prominences looked very nice visually through the 80mm scope and the Quark.  This image was taken with the Lunt LS50 (single stack) at ~f13 using the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

A Nearly Spotless Sun Towards Solar Minimum - 12th May

As we head towards solar minimum activity on our Sun will get less and less.  Imaging in CaK light is a good way to show up activity that can be difficult to see in white light views.  Three active regions are currently on the suns earthward face, with the largest of these closer to the eastern limb showing a couple of small pores where magnetic field loops break the solar surface.  This image was taken at 393nm in Calcium light with the homebrew CaK filter, 40mm scope at ~f13 with the PGR Chameleon 3 camera and then coloured to mirror the AIA1700 image.

Active Regions in Calcium Light - 12th May

A trio of active regions are currently transiting the earthward face of the sun.  Visible as bright plage in CaK wavelengths where there is higher magnetic field strength.  Taken at 80mm aperture fl 1000mm with the homebrew CaK filter and the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.  

Friday, 11 May 2018

CaK Full Disk 10th May

Nice to see some active regions and their associated white plage visible on the sun.  There seems to have been a slight uptick in solar activity in recent weeks going against the longer downward trend as we head towards solar minimum.  Taken with the 40mm f10 scope somewhere around f13 with the homebrew CaK filter and the PGR Chameleon 3 USB3 camera.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Full Disk With the Lunt LS50 - 10th May

There were clear(ish!) skies after work today and so decided to get the scope out to see what was happening on our star.  Things are quiet but a trio of active regions were visible.  Taken with the single stacked LuntLS50 and the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.  I quite like the way this scope performs in single stack mode.

AR12708 with the Airylab HaT - 7th May

First real run this year with the 203mm Airylab HaT, and on one of the hottest days of the year the seeing was boiling away.  Took several images with the Daystar Quark to get one that wasn't mush, and this one came out best.  The sunspot was quite active at this scale.  Camera was the PGR Chameleon 3.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Ha Full Disk Animation 6th May

I have been perplexed with the way my Lunt50 has been behaving lately however hoping that on Sunday this has been fixed.  I decided to do a full disk animation and see how it held on band.  This animation represents 2 1/2 hours on the face of our star.  It is very quiet but looking at the full size version of the image shows some quite subtle changes over time.  

Calcium Closeups 6th May

The seeing was reasonably steady on sunday afternoon and I managed a nice closeup using the 40mm scope barlowed up to shy of 1000mm focal length,  double clicking the image zooms quite a bit further in.  Using the homebrew CaK filter and the PGR Chameleon 3 usb camera.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

CaK Full Disk - 6th May

Calcium wavelengths are great for spotting solar activity as it shows up white, and despite a virtually empty disk in whitelight there were 2 active regions easily seen at 393nm.  This shot was taken with the 40mm scope at somewhere near 500mm focal length.  The homebrew CaK filter and the PGR Chameleon were used.

White Light Full Disk - 6th May

The sun is all but blank at the moment, all bar a very small active region that contains a couple of pores, nearer the north eastern limb there is a small region of plage associated with a decaying active region.  This image is the first proper white light full disk image I have got with my 60mm f6 scope I bought earlier this year.  With it's short focal length it is easy to get the full disk in one on the frame with room to spare.  The 2" Lunt solar wedge was used along with a 656nm Ha filter.  I need to replace my solar continuum filter and try that for greater resolution.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

CaK Full Disk - 1st May

One of those first thing in the morning shots, it's that time of year!  The seeing was awful especially considering the apparently clear blue skies, still, nice to get some sun.  It never ceases to amaze me what stacking software can do with what seems like very poor data.  Taken with the 40mm f10 somewhere around 500m fl with the homebrew CaK filter and the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Ha Full Disk 30th April

The skies cleared in a fashion late this afternoon so I decided to get home quick from work and go for an image of the sun.  Compared to a few days ago the face of our star is virtually blank.  It was nice to be able to get an image though and this one was taken with the Lunt DS50 with the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

CaK Full Disk 26th April

The time of year has arrived where for several months i'm able to observe the sun early in the morning before I leave for work; it's always a pleasant way to start the day.  This morning our star was quiet all bar a decaying active region AR12706 visible as an area of bright white plage on the disk.  A small sunspot was also visible.  Image taken with the 40mm f10 scope running around 500mm focal length with the homebrew CaK filter and the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Ha Full Disk - 22nd April

If you take a look back at my recent full disks with the Lunt 50 there is a distinct haze and softness to the images.  I had noticed that visually there was a bright offset circular patch when looking through the eyepiece, this was quite clearly an internal reflection, and some clearish skies this afternoon allowed a bit of experimentation that led me to conclude there was a reflection between the ITF on the blocking filter and the internal optics of the Lunt 50.  Always the key to supressing a reflection is to use a circular polarising filter so I tried one on the nose of the blocking filter.  Immediately through the eyepiece I was pleasantly surprised how black the background sky was now, and also how much more contrast there was on the disk.  Exposure time was longer as might be expected, but still within what is acceptable at this image scale.  The resultant image is also sharper.  Taken with the Lunt DS50 and PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

AR12706 in Ha - 20th April

As we head towards solar minimum activity on our star will get less and less, so it was a pleasant surprise earlier in the week to have both good weather here in the UK and also an active region rounding the suns eastern limb.  The southerly plume brought some of the warmest April weather since 1947, and with the high temperatures wobbly seeing, but using the ED80 and double stacked Quark I was pleased with this shot of this active region - AR12706.  The PGR Blackfly GigE IMX249 camera was used,

CaK Sun - 20th April

A quick whizz overview of the sun from Friday 20th April.  The full disk was taken with the 40mm scope somewhere around 500mm focal length, the closer view with the ED80 stopped down to 60mm.  Both with the homebrew CaK filter and the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.  Nice to see a bit of activity for a change!

Ha Full Disks 20th April

I was able to get home early after work on friday, and seeing as the sun was shining I decided to grab some solar images.  First up some full disks, single and double stacked with the Lunt 50 and PGR Chameleon 3 camera.  There are some stacking artefacts around the limb, but have since deleted the raw data so can't restack and can't be bothered to paint out.  To be perfectly honest i'm just glad to see the sun!

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Hazy Sunshine 16th April

After 2 weeks of virtually wall to wall cloud the sun was making fleeting appearances through some broken cloud on Monday afternoon.  I got back from work and set the scope up but the haze, as indicated by the brightened background in this image, was thick.  The visuals were better than this image, with a nice flame prom visible and a couple of very small active areas; sunspot activity was negligible though.  Taken with the single stack Lunt 50 and PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Small Prominence - 5th April

Hazy skies contributed to a bit of background glow on some of thursdays images, but I was pleased with how this prom shot turned out and the subtle detail within it, especially as it was taken with the new 60mm f6 scope.  This was taken with a Daystar Quark and the PGR Blackfly IMX249 camera.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Tenuous Filaments - 5th April

This has to be one of my favourite shots from Thursday and is worth clicking on to view full size.  The seeing must have been playing ball for this image as got a lovely feathery edge to the Sun, along with some nice small scale detail in the prominence.  Tenuous filaproms grace the surface too - these clouds of cooler plasma held aloft by magnetic fields.  This shot was taken with the 60mm f6 scope along with a double stacked Daystar Quark and the PGR Blackfly IMX249 camera.

Swirling Plasma and Small Proms - 5th april

The sun is certainly getting quieter as we approach solar minimum, but that doesn't mean nothing is happening on our star, things are just smaller scale.  This shot taken with the ED60 and double stacked Quark shows this well, with the small remnants of the old active region in the left of the picture, and a particularly small prom on the limb.  I like the field of view this setup gives for this sort of thing.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Close Up Proms with the Airylab HaT - 5th April

Despite the clear blue skies the seeing wasn't up to the resolution of 8" aperture with the HaT, I shot a number of images and these are about the best that came out.  Taken with a native Quark and PGR Blackfly IMX249 camera.

EX - AR12699 - Filaments and Magnetic Fields - 5th April

2 solar rotations ago at the start of February the winter sun was graced with the sight of an active region yielding a number of spots.  A rotation later it emerged on the solar limb as nothing more than a region of plage.  On it's second rotation it took a bit of rejuvenation and for a few days following some minor flaring very small spots briefly appeared.  In calcium wavelengths this bright plage is easily seen, however in Ha wavelengths it can be see a region of churned plasma with a central dark filament forming the boundary between the opposing magnetic field lines of the ex-active region.  This shot was taken with the 60mm f6 ED60 scope and double stacked Daystar Quark along with the PGR Blackfly IMX249 camera.

Ha Full Disk - 5th April

It was a case of look carefully on the sun on 5th April.  At first sign there is nothing happening, but look closer and there are a number of very small filaments all over the face of the sun.  The clouds of cool plasma are held aloft above the suns surface by magnetic fields.  Proms were in a small scale and also short supply.  Taken with the double stacked Lunt 50 and the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

CaK Full Disk - 5th April

Finally some clear skies, and I must have forgot how to use the 40mm CaK scope as I did an awful attempt at focusing on this disk.  All pretty quiet apart from the relic plage from our active region from a few rotations back visible mid disk.  Taken using the home brew CaK filter and PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

AR12699 - Return of the Plage: Take 2

 When you look at the SDO image above you might be fooled into thinking something big is coming around the solar limb near the solar equator (left hand side).  Sadly this is just the remnants of AR12699 from February, and all that will be visible now is some decaying plage, visible in CaK wavelengths, and possibly discernible in Ha wavelengths.  For most people this will go totally un-noticed.  It should be visible on the LASP solar irradiance plot as a slight up tick in the graph as the slightly brighter plage rounds the limb.  When sunspots are visible the opposite effect happens with a trough or down tick in the graph as the cooler, darker sunspots actually reduce the total solar irradiance as they pass over the Earthward face of our star.  Will be interesting to see over the Easter fortnight how visible this relic plage actually is.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Proms on a Spring Day - 25th March

The first day of spring here in the UK was a warm and bright day, quite different from the weeks of a long cold winter that went before.  There was on and off high cloud and the seeing was far from steady, but it was nice to get the scopes out and see what was happening on our star.  Not much really, a blank disk apart from a nice group of proms on the western limb.  This is where the 8" HaT comes in, with it's ability to get in on the smallest of details as we head into solar winter and an absence of larger scale activity.  It took a number of files being recorded to get something, and this is less than ideal, but certainly better than nothing.  Taken with the Daystar Quark and the PGR Blackfly IMX249 camera.  

Full Disk With The Double Stacked Lunt50 - 25th March

The double stacked Lunt50 is going to be a bit of a work horse through solar minimum.  The extra contrast double stacked etalons brings teases out any filaments whilst also highlighting the areas of brighter plage.  Using the PGR Chameleon 3 it is possible to get the full disk all in one shot, saving the need for creating a mosaic.  

A Trifecta of Full Disks on the First Day of Spring - 25th March

Sunday 25th March marked the start of British Summer Time, with the clocks going forward an hour and the lighter evenings now with us.  For once the weather forecast was promising and I was keen to put the new Tecnosky ED60 through it's paces.  This little scope has a focal length of 360mm and with a an ED fpl-53 doublet promised to be a nice scope.  I tried one visually for the eclipse in America in august and was very pleased so when one was available I picked one up with the intention of it being a quick grab and go full disk scope.  Today allowed testing, and while 60mm is too small to show granulation on the sun it certainly presented a mottling that hinted at it.  Views were also impressive in CaK wavelengths.  Using a double stacked Quark both visually and photographically things were impressive encompassing a full disk in the eyepiece.  Overall I am very pleased with the scope, it is light, compact and performs very well, with the 60mm aperture meaning it is very suitable to poor seeing conditions and also for travel being light weight.  Be sure to click on the image for a full size view to see the finer details.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

AR12702 - Catch It Before It's Gone!

Over the past few days a small emerging flux region has developed in the suns northern hemisphere, initially this was a bright area in both Ha and CaK wavelengths, however now a small group of spots have developed.  Unlikely to develop into anything more if there is a chance in the next couple of days to take a look is worth doing.  As the area passes over the limb there is a good chance there will be prominences associated with it in Ha light.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Take a Journey To The Sun on The Parker Solar Probe

Want to get the hottest ticket this summer without standing in line?

NASA is inviting people around the world to submit their names online to be placed on a microchip aboard NASA’s historic Parker Solar Probe mission launching in summer 2018. The mission will travel through the Sun’s atmosphere, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions — and your name will go along for the ride.

“This probe will journey to a region humanity has never explored before,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This mission will answer questions scientists have sought to uncover for more than six decades.”

Understanding the Sun has always been a top priority for space scientists. Studying how the Sun affects space and the space environment of planets is the field known as heliophysics. The field is not only vital to understanding Earth’s most important and life-sustaining star, it supports exploration in the solar system and beyond.

The spacecraft, about the size of a small car, will travel directly into the Sun's atmosphere about 4 million miles from the star's surface. The primary science goals for the mission are to trace how energy and heat move through the solar corona and to explore what accelerates the solar wind as well as solar energetic particles. The mission will revolutionise our understanding of the Sun, where changing conditions can spread out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other worlds.

To perform these unprecedented investigations, the spacecraft and instruments will be protected from the Sun’s heat by a 4.5-inch-thick carbon-composite shield, which will need to withstand temperatures outside the spacecraft that reach nearly 2,500 F. This state-of-the-art heat shield will keep the four instrument suites designed to study magnetic fields, plasma and energetic particles, and image the solar wind at room temperature.

The spacecraft speed is so fast, at its closest approach it will be going at approximately 430,000 mph. That's fast enough to get from Washington, D.C., to Tokyo in under a minute.

“Parker Solar Probe is, quite literally, the fastest, hottest — and, to me, coolest — mission under the Sun,” said project scientist Nicola Fox, of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. “This incredible spacecraft is going to reveal so much about our star and how it works that we’ve not been able to understand.”

Submissions will be accepted until April 27, 2018. Learn more and add your name to the mission here:

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Ex-AR12699 Nothing More Than Decaying Plage - 4th March

Ex AR12699 made it's return over the weekend, however sadly activity in the region has decayed significantly, and despite hopes there would be some sunspots left all that has returned is an area of decaying plage.  This can be seen above in a crop from the latest SDO AIA1700 image.  Here on Earth observers should be able to detects hints of this in Ha and also CaK wavelengths, where at higher resolution in white light it may be possible to detect it too.  .

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Ex-AR12699 To Return Within a Week? 27th February

Taking a look at the SOHO data for the far side of the sun it would seem that AR12699 that passed over the suns limb over a week ago that there are still signs of activity visible.  Loops to the centre of the disk opposite indicate a bipolar active region, and whilst maybe not as active of it's previous rotation there is hope there may still may be sunspots visible.  At the very least a region of plage visible in CaK wavelengths, and possibly white light, should be visible, with the ex-active region likely proceeded with the view of prominences on the solar limb a day or so before the (ex?) active region itself is actually visible.  However the area develops, or not, it gives solar observers something to look forward to seeing in the coming days ahead.