Archive for April, 2009

The Sun 29-4-09 – Sunspots!!

April 29, 2009 Leave a comment

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!

Categories: Solar

The Sun 26-4-09 – Low activity again!

April 26, 2009 Leave a comment
Its been a dull week with almost no surface activity and only very small prominences, solar minimum strikes again! Just one fairly fast changing prom in the north and a needle like spike prom in the south which was very short lived. The weak flux in the north east continues to decline and I expect it will have vanished altogether by tomorrow. DMK21/DMK41/PST

Categories: Solar

The Sun 25-4-09 – Small proms and weak AR

April 26, 2009 Leave a comment
Cloudy all day today with quite poor seeing. These images were shot through gaps in the cloud between 12.43 and 14.47 BST. The proms were all extremely small as you can see on the full disk shot. The small active flux area in the NE is still there, but I expect it to fade fast now as it is a very weak feature. DMK41/DMK21/PST/Lunt Cak B1200.

Categories: Solar

The Sun 23-4-09 – First light for the Lunt B1200 CaK

April 23, 2009 1 comment

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.

Categories: Solar

Lunt CaK B1200 – New addition to the Imaging Family

April 21, 2009 Leave a comment

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.

The next part of the upgrade will be a Solarscope SF-70 70mm Ha filter unit or the new Lunt 100mm Ha telescope. Not too sure which to go for yet. The Solarscope optical quality is renowned and well tested by the likes of Pete Lawrence, it is clearly a pedigree solar unit. The Lunts have got off to a shaky start with the LS60T and LS50 filters which do not appear to show much more than you can see in a PST and the tuners are certainly far less responsive. They have also failed so far to get rid of the uneven illumination effects unlike the Solarscope filters which have totally even illumination and full-size etalons. Unless the Lunt 100’s get rave reviews and I see some stunning images I will be getting a Solarscope SF-70 in September or October.

Categories: Equipment, Solar

The Sun 19-4-09 – Emerging Flux Region in NE and a few Proms

April 19, 2009 Leave a comment
The sky was deceptively blue and cloud free today, but the seeing on the suns surface was a shimmering mess most of the time. Even so, the emerging flux region in the NE was a lot clearer today and appeared to have a very dark core – sunspot forming ? The proms were very faint with the slender spike in the SW being the best to view. There was a persistent small bright plage area at the center of the disk which has lasted two days now, but it has no related flux or filaments forming. Images taken between 13.37 and 15.22 GMT. DMK41/DMK21/PST.

Categories: Solar

The Sun 18-4-09 – Very poor seeing and minor activity

April 18, 2009 Leave a comment
Terrible seeing all day today, not what was forecast at all! This made processing the images interesting in a masochistic sort of way. The new emerging flux region in the NE is very weak and probably won’t form any sunspots. The proms were quite small and generally very faint. Images taken 14.35-15.02 with DMK41/DMK21/PST. On all shots north is left and east at bottom. New AR is at bottom left on the disks.

Categories: Solar

The Sun 13-4-09 – Yesterdays Prom Lives On

April 13, 2009 Leave a comment

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

Categories: Solar

The Sun 12-4-09 – Animated Prom

April 12, 2009 Leave a comment

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.

Categories: Solar

The Sun 11-4-09 – Good visibility = great proms!

April 11, 2009 Leave a comment

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.

Categories: Solar