Thursday, 23 March 2017
Weather conditions were far from perfect with some haze with the sun low in the sky, but with the lack of decent weather so far this year I was not giving up on the chance to observe our star. The new sunspot isn't particularly outstanding in Ha, but is nice to have some activity to see. There seem to be lots of delicate filaments and prominences at the moment on the disk. This shot was taken with the PST double stacked with a Lunt 50 etalon, at 400mm focal length with the PGR Chameleon 3 camera. 1000 frames were taken and 100 stacked in the new beta version of Autostakkert, which, I have to say works very well and seems to have some interesting new features.
The full disk is still quiet, even in CaK light, but on the eastern limb a new sunspot rounded the limb; it is small and rather inactive looking, but nice to have a feature on our star. Fingers crossed I will be able to get a closer look over the coming weekend. Taken with the 40mm scope at 400mm focal, with the homebrew CaK filter and the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.
Monday, 20 March 2017
The spring Equinox occurred today at 10.28am, the point where the Earths equatorial plane crosses the Suns equatorial plane. The Suns disk is fairly blank at the moment, but the double stacked PST with it's enhanced contrast made the subtle dark filaments and brighter plage pop out compared to other wavelengths bringing a bit of interest to our star as we head into the depths of solar minimum. Taken at 400mm focal length with the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.
Really nice to come home from work this afternoon to a bit of sunshine, even if it was low in the sky, definitely better than nothing! Isn't it quiet though, normally CaK shows quite bright emitters, but there is very little in the way to see plage wise. This was taken with the 40mm scope at 400mm focal length with the homebrew CaK filter and the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.
Wednesday, 15 March 2017
Today really did seem like spring had finally arrived. It was blue(ish!) skies and in the sunshine actually felt warm. Sadly I was at work all day, but when I got back around 5ish was surprised just how high the sun still was in the sky, yes, the sky had a yellowish haze to it, but with an open front door I was able to set the Double stacked PST up to see what was happening. The disk shows not much, a couple of filaments and emerging flux regions, and some small proms. The image bounced all around the screen as the pier was mounted on suspended wooden floor boards, and with the disk only several degrees above the local horizon I just wanted to grab a quick image. It's not in tune on the eastern limb, but, this image is better than none and was a pleasure to get in a year with so little imaging taking place so far; hopefully this will improve in the future! The camera used was the PGR Chameleon 3.
Posted by Mark Townley at Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Saturday, 4 March 2017
Since Christmas the weather has been awful for me, with only a few clear days, normally when i'm at work, this is only my second session of 2017. It was a short one too, there was a low pressure system right over the top of us and I was observing through the eye of the storm. The sky was very hazy and this contributed to some brightening of the background in this image, but, it is much better than no image! There were a few small prominences which looked great visually through the 203mm HaT, but conditions were not going to let me image and closeups with the big scope. Instead I settled for a full disk with the double stacked Coronado PST at 400mm focal length and the PGR Chameleon 3. The main active region was crackling with plasma, but this was no flare! It's nice to see the sun after so long. Now that we are in meteorological spring I hope the weather starts clearing up a bit more!
The only real activity on the sun at the moment is in the northern hemisphere, with areas of bright plage. The larger of which has a few small spots and pores but nothing of note to speak of. This shot was take with the 40mm scope at 400mm focal length with the homebrew CaK filter and the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.
Sunday, 5 February 2017
The conditions were far from great, but in the depths of winter it is nice just to get an image of the sun as it skirts the roof lines and tree tops of the urban environment. Now into the start of february the sun climbs ever higher in our sky, and while it still dances with the urban obstructions it is visible for longer and longer each passing week. There was a small surge on the limb, and with a wispy filament it made for a frame with the Skywatcher ED80, Double stacked Daystar Quark and a PGR Chameleon 3 camera using 2x2 binning to try and tame the unsteady atmosphere.
This little decaying active region had very little other than a few plasma rifts going on, and, with a sun heading towards solar minimum is why a scope like the 0.2m Airylab HaT is the way forward. This 'wide field' shot was taken with a skywatcher ED80 and a double stacked Quark.
Not really a lot going on on in this image taken in Calcium light of the north eastern limb of our star taken with the 80mm scope at 2000mm focal length with the PGR CH3 and 2x2 binning. What is does show is the 'hairy' limb of the sun, or the chromosphere in profile, sometimes called the spicule layer in Ha images. With a quieter sun now upon us this is something I want to focus on for animations with a high temporal cadence in the months ahead in this years solar season.
Saturday, 4 February 2017
While todays seeing wasn't great there were moments when it showed some promise, to the point I decided to get out the 100mm Tal100R refractor. Stopping this down to 80mm with a Beloptik tri-band ERF and running at 2000mm focal length I was able to get some close up views of this departing active region revealing some quite small scale detail. Taken with the homebrew CaK filter and the PGR Chameleon 3 camera using 2x2 binning.
Apart from the decaying active regions that were heading towards the suns limb there isn't a lot happening on our sun in Calcium light at the moment. This image was taken with the 40mm scope at 400mm focal length with the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.
This subtle little prom on the suns eastern limb had lots of faint detail tucked away that I didn't realise until I processed the image. Taken with the Skywatcher ED80, Double stacked Daystar Quark and the PGR Chameleon 3 with 2x2 binning to try and tame the the poor seeing.
This small prominence was hanging on the boundary of filaprom / prominence on the western limb, but I like the way the subtle detail came out. Taken with the ED80, double stacked quark and the PGR Chameleon 3 with 2x2 binning.
Seems the turn of february is a tipping point for me with the sun just about above most of the tree tops for most of the morning, following 3 months of grabbing quick views of suns between the branches. With blue skies prevailing I decided to give the Daystar Quark its first run of the year on the back of the Skywatcher ED80. Seeing was awful so decided to use 2x2 binning on the PGR (FLIR) Chameleon 3 camera to give effective 6.9um pixel size, which, together with increased sensitivity and shorter exposure time just about did the job. Bear in mind the sun was still below 20 degrees altitude in the sky. The sun is pretty quiet at the moment with this relict active region heading towards the limb really the main feature of note. I needed to use flats with this image as there were dust bunnies galore - I need to clean all my glassware before settling into the 2017 solar season proper.
Finally after over a month of no real clear skies, or, no clear skies when I can actually observe it was nice to have a saturday morning where the sun was out. Certainly not totally clear skies, there was a lot of high cloud but it was thin enough to image. It's also pleasing to see how much higher the sun is getting in the sky now, the 2017 solar season is starting! This image was taken with the double stacked PST at 400mm focal length with the PGR Chameleon 3 camera. Disk detail is low at the moment but there were a couple of small delicate prominences on display. Just a bit to early in the season to be zooming in with bigger scopes effectively.
Monday, 2 January 2017
Hydrogen Alpha at 656.28nm was proving itself to be the wavelength of choice on this, my first imaging session of 2017. There were plenty of smaller scale features to be seen including a number of small but well defined prominences, some of which merged into filaproms. A small emerging flux region crackled with magnetic energy, however is unlikely to develop into much more, and on the disk a number of darker filaments, cooler clouds of solar plasma held aloft by magnetic fields could be well seen. The image was taken with a Coronado PST double stacked with a Lunt50 etalon along with a PGR Chameleon 3 camera and a Daystar Interference Eliminator to apply tilt to the optical plane to get rid of banding issues caused by Newtons Rings.
The eastern limb of the sun was the quietest today, with a very small area of inactive plage, however the limb offered a nice collection of small prominences, filaproms and filaments. Taken with a double stacked PST, PGR Chameleon 3 and a old and dirty 2x barlow that has graced the image with dust bunnies.
As I use this PST more and more i'm slowly starting to get a handle on how it works, and how the orientation of the double stacked Lunt 50mm etalon that i'm using on it manifests itself in the final image. Today was one of those days that was quiet in CaK wavelengths, but in Ha there was a whole host of interesting smaller scale features that could be seen. The proms and filaments were the star of the show, but there was a small and interesting emerging flux region passing towards the western limb. The bright plage towards the eastern limb doesn't seem to be doing much at all. Taken with the Double stacked PST and PGR Chameleon 3 camera.
When I saw this area of plage coming around the limb a few days ago I was optimistic there might be a few spots tucked away in there - alas no! Any activity is very small scale or deeply buried within our star. Taken with the 40mm scope, 2x barlow, homebrew CaK filter and the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.
A closer look at the small area of plage heading towards the western limb in Calcium light reveals a smittering of brighter white spots indicating possibly developing activity, maybe and emerging flux region? Taken with the 40mm scope and a dirty 2x barlow nosepiece which has given a shadow of dust bunnies on the image despite a good clean - a new barlow is in order for a new year I think! Taken with the PGR Chameleon 3 camera and Daystar Interference Eliminator.
The sun was quite blank in Calcium light today, a couple of brighter areas of plage towards either limb, possibly the one on the left will become an emerging flux region as seemed to be crackling away with a few brighter spots. The faintest hint of the proms visible too. Taken with the 40mm scope at 400mm focal length with the homebrew CaK filter and the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.
Thursday, 29 December 2016
I've been messing around with a PST for some time now since the summer, first double stacking it with a Lunt 50 etalon, the BF5 has been replaced with my BF10, as IMHO, this particular filter offers better contrast. I've also shortened the eyepiece holder on the PST, so that all the usual issues of cameras not coming to focus without a barlow etc are a thing of the past. Today, in my new found hour long winter season viewing window I tried a different experiment, which barlow offered the best view. I had 2 to choose from, my astro engineering magnimate and a bog standard Skywatcher 2x barlow. The PGR Chameleon 3 with its 2048x1536 pixel sensor offers plenty of real estate for such an exercise. After taking numerous images the results kinda didn't surprise me, the best image was the one without a barlow at prime focus, it was noticeably sharper, with more contrast and more fine detail. It gives a 1200 pixel wide disk, which, for displaying via the web is ample. I still need to get the perfect tilt with the Daystar Interference Eliminator, I feel some index marks coming on. Next steps may have to be to lose the PST Black Box (and it's potentially astigmatic) penta prism assembly and have a focuser directly on the back of the etalon. With the correct spacings it should work well!
With my new found gap in the trees i've now over an hour to pass solar imaging in the winter season around solar noon, and, after messing around with some full disks still had some time to spare. Seeing wasn't good with the low sun as you would expect, but I decided to crack out the Skywatcher ED80, and stopping it down to 60mm I took a closer look at some of the plage that is currently visible in Calcium wavelengths. Viewing the image full size there is the smallest of pores visible in this relic active region. Taken with the homebrew CaK filter and the PGR Chameleon 3 camera in conjunction with the Daystar Interference Eliminator to tame Newtons rings that can be a problem.
Another clear and frosty day here in Brierley Hills, and with my new found 'gap between the trees' available for a full hour around midday it would be foolish of me not to try and exploit it for a bit of solar. Our sun is very quiet at the moment, with only a few areas of white plage visible on the disk, indicative of slightly higher magnetic fields, alas no strong enough to form any sunspots. The air was very clear, and, it is possible by clicking on the image to view it full size to see the spicule ring around the limb, along with ghostly pale views of todays prominences. Also, at 9 o'clock on the limb a small surge is visible. Taken with the 40mm scope at around 500mm focal length with the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.
Tuesday, 27 December 2016
A pretty blank quarter of sun all bar a few filaments and small areas of plage. There are a few smudges which are the result of a couple of chips on the glasswork of my el-cheapo 2x barlow which was used for this pic 😶 - time for a new year barlow lens me thinks! Despite this i'm pleased with the way this image came out given the low altitude of the sun and the poor seeing that this presents. The focus feature in the Genika capture software really helps with this. The image was taken with a PST double stacked with a Lunt 50 etalon and a PGR Chameleon 3 camera, along with the very effective Daystar Interference Eliminator to tame the issue of Newtons Rings easily with minimal tilt to affect focus across the frame.
Posted by Mark Townley at Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Monday, 26 December 2016
It's days like today when a double stacked scope is really needed to see the smaller and finer details on our star. Double stacking reduces continuum leakage from the wings of the Ha line at 656.28nm, and the consequence of this is increased contrast, making delicate filaments and filaproms easier to see, in a single stacked scope these tangible details are just washed out. While very little was visible on todays sun, the double stacked PST did a good job of showing these more subtle features. My favourite in this shot is the small filament and the hazy filaprom. Also working very well was the Daystar Interference Eliminator in doing a great job of applying just the right amount of tilt to get rid of the annoying Newtons rings!
My new found 'gap in the trees' around midday in the winter season has given me a bit more time to image. I tried zooming in a bit with the 40mm scope as realistically this is all the seeing would allow with such a low sun, alas, there was not much to see at all! It really did need a much bigger scope to zoom in on some of the plage regions to close in on the smaller scale detail. Either way, nice to be able to image this late in the year!
Boxing day dawned bright and clear, and despite the low sun I was determined to make the most of the day. The sun is devoid of spots at the moment, but, looking in Calcium light at 393nm it was possible to see several small areas of brighter, white plage - these magnetically frothy regions hint at very low levels of activity, maybe, deeper within out star. I was testing out some new technology today too: Firstly the focus assistant in the Genika capture software allowed an empirical measure that the focus was as sharp as the conditions allowed, which, with a north westerly air stream and a low sun wasn't as good as I know is possible with this setup. Secondly the Daystar Interference Eliminator allowed me to easily apply the minimal tilt needed to get rid of Newtons Rings yet retain a sharp focus, this is a piece of equipment that I feel is going to be invaluable in imaging with other setups in the future. This full disk was taken with the 40mm scope at ~500mm focal length with the homebrew CaK filter and the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.
The weather turned from the storms of Christmas day to building high pressure and clear skies on Boxing Day. I was keen to try out my Daystar Interference Eliminator as a means for getting rid of Newtons Rings that afflict my imaging with the PST and PGR Chameleon 3 camera. I'm pleased to report this is a very effective solution that allows the user to very quickly and easily adjust to a minimum tilt (required) position to give minimal affect on focal shift across the image frame. I'm looking forward to being able to do more testing with this great little device as the sun climbs higher and higher in the sky now we are past the winter solstice. Wish there was a bit more to see on the sun though! Merry Christmas to all! 😃