Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Autostakkert3 Beta Version Released

I've always been a fan of the 'Autostakkert' software for stacking my solar images, it is simple to use, and, IMHO gives good results.  I was pleased to see recently version 3 had been released in beta form, with a number of new and interesting features.  A limit frames feature next to the open frame button in the top left allows the user to select only a range of frames for stacking, which, could be useful if part of the recording has clouds passing through, for example.  A greater noise range is also now available to allow the user to really fine tune the stacking to the conditions.  Also of the note is the 'double stack' alignment feature which as the name suggests performs a secondary stack and align on the data.  An interesting feature is it now allows multiple scale alignment points, which, I think is a positive thing.  My images from mid march were all staked using AS3, and I have to say i'm pleased with the results.  The Beta version can be downloaded from Emils website here - give it a go and give feedback to help improve this excellent product!

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Solar Northern Hemisphere In Calcium Light - 26th March

 The suns northern hemisphere was by far the most interesting and most active today, with a new active region forming quite rapidly over the past 24 hours or so.  Numerous spots were visible in it, and several bright points could be seen crackling away.  The smaller scale image was taken with the 40mm scope and 2x barlow to push the focal length to around 800mm.  This along with the PGR Chameleon 3 gave a pleasing image scale.  The lower image was taken at 80mm aperture and 2000mm focal length, but all the haze, high cloud and contrails were not helping the seeing conditions or the transparency.  Regardless, it was nice to get some imaging in after a start to the year beset with poor weather conditions.

CaK Full Disk - 26th March

Out of all the images I took today I think my favourite is the CaK full disk, despite the haze, high cloud and contrails this came out really sharp.  The new active region was positively crackling with activity, looking noticeably brighter than the other plage regions.  Taken with the 40mm scope at 400mm focal length with the homebrew CaK filter and the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.  

Ha Full Disk - 26th March

The sun looked nice in Ha wavelengths today; the proms may not have been large, but there was a lovely emerging active region with rapidly developing spots, and also a large number of small but delicate filaments across the disk.  High cloud and haze was a real pain throughout todays imaging session, but definitely better than being clouded out!  Taken with the DS PST at 400mm focal length with the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.  I need to grease the tuning ring on the PST as is becoming quite dry and stiff in its action, making it quite difficult to fine tune the scope.

Sunday Proms - 26th March

The sky was hazy today, and I was struggling to see the proms, so I decided to do an exposure for the prominences alone.  Then I realised why I was struggling to see them - there weren't many at all, and the ones that were there were really small!  Taken with the DS PST at 400mm focal length with the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

CaK Full Disk - 25th March

Lots of high cloud running through was making imaging difficult and dropping the contrast of the views, but this shot came out ok in the end with a bit of massaging in post processing.  Taken with the 40mm scope at 400mm focal length with the PGR Chameleon 3 USB3 camera.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Ha Full Disk - 25th March

I could only observe early today, and when the sun had come across the roof tops the sky was heavy with horses tails cirrus clouds.  There was still a reasonable shadow on the ground so I just racked up the exposure and went for it, sadly it didn't help my tuning!  Taken with the DS PST at 400mm focal length with the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Ha Full Disk - 23rd March

 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.

CaK Full Disk With A Spot - 23rd March

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

Equinoctial Full Disk in Hydrogen Alpha - 20th March

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.

CaK Full Disk - 20th March

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

Setting Sun Through The Haze - 15th March

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.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

The First Sun In a Month... Ha Full Disk 4th March

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!

CaK Full Disk 4th March

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

Bright Spot and a Filament 4th February

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.

AR12632 in Ha 4th February

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.

Chromosphere on The Limb In Calcium Light 4th February

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

AR12629 in CaK 4th February

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.

CaK Full Disk 4th February

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.

Eastern Prominence 4th February

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.

Small Prominence 4th February

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.

AR12629 in Ha 4th February

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.

Ha Full Disk 4th February - The Sun Finally Comes Out!

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

A Busy Western Limb in Ha - 2nd 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.  

Eastern Filaments - 2nd January

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.

Ha Full Disk - 2nd January 2017 - Happy New Year!!!

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.

Easter Plage in CaK Light - 2nd January

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.

Western Plage In CaK Light - 2nd January

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.

CaK Full Disk - 2nd January

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

When Less Is More in Solar Imaging - Ha Full Disk 29th December

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!