For the first time in a long while a decent set of sunspots (NOAA 11016) appeared this morning on the south west limb. The polarity suggests this is another SC23 sunspot group, so we are not really seeing a rise in SC24 activity yet but rather the last gasps of SC23. The plage was very bright visually in the PST and the active region developed quickly in size and shape. The sunspot group is Zurich Cao class. I was imaging at 16.20UT through high white cloud and the seeing was unbelievably bad with the surface in constant fluid motion and haze crossing at all times. It was very difficult to compensate for the constantly changing brightness levels and most video runs came out over or underexposed. High magnification imaging was basically pointless!
I had just 15 minutes of sun this afternoon to test the new filter and that was shooting through thin hazy cloud low on the horizon too! I was amazed when the image popped up on the laptop and revealed a relatively sharp and detailed surface. I had always thought large apertures played a big part in letting more light and resolution come through in bad seeing and this test proved my theory immediately. The filter was attached to my Vixen 115s APO stopped down to 100mm. With no activity on the suns surface at the moment I wasn’t expecting a lot, but even so two areas of plage are showing up, the one on the right clearly has two tiny pores in it and the one on the left may be a new AR rounding the NE limb. The scale of magnification was large to start with due to the 890mm focal length of the Vixen and I doubt I will be needing a barlow very often when solar maximum arrives.
As the first part of the general upgrade to my solar imaging equipment I took delivery today of the Lunt CaK B1200 solar diagonal. The Euro price for this unit is currently £977 without shipping while the US price is £603 with shipping – guess where I went shopping! I ordered direct from Lunt in Tucson, Arizona and the unit was in the UK three days later!! The diagonal will be used on my Equinox ED80 and the Vixen 115s (stopped down to 100mm) refractors. Typically, just as the diagonal arrived, the sky clouded over almost immediately so no chance to test it today. There was very little to test it on anyway with just a tiny area of plage in the NW and no proms at all.
Cloudier today and the seeing has deteriorated to its usual average state after the great visibility of the last two days. The exact same area of the limb which produced yesterdays main prom activity is dominated today by what must surely be the same prominence, but now seen more sideways on to the viewer and slightly larger in size too. A high curving arch is crowned by a fringe of plasma while another arch to the right is interacting over the limb. This was the main feature today with no surface activity once more. Images taken 12.15 – 12.30. DMK21/PST
After the full disk array of proms around the limb yesterday today was quite disappointing with just one moderately sized flame type prom on the south limb. Having taken a quick set of images I was ready to pack up by 11am, but it was just too tempting to make a short animation of that prom so I carried on taking video runs every 2 minutes for the next hour. The seeing was occasionally very wobbly, but the sun was blazing in a clear blue sky so it was too good an opportunity to miss. In all the animation consists of 42 frames compiled in Animation Shop 3. Each video run was 500 frames in length and each avi was then stacked in Registax 5. I used PSPX to layer and align the 42 frames. All taken on DMK21 via PST between 10.57 and 12.01 GMT.
Looks like my request in the last post was answered! This morning the atmosphere was indeed scrubbed up to around 11.30am with great transparency and above average seeing. These conditions allow the PST to “see” much more detail than normal and the proms generally look more detailed with finer strands of plasma. You can also shoot much faster in great weather with the exposures at max speed on the DMK21 and DMK41. A great day for it too with extended prom groups in SW, NW and NE. The proms in the NW and NE were very faint while the SW proms appeared bright visually. No surface action at all and none predicted by the satellites on the far side of the sun either so it looks like a dry period is ahead in terms of active regions. All images taken with the DMK41 and PST this time. South is to the right and west is up.