Tuesday, 19 March 2019

The Smallest of Proms 17th March

There was the smallest of proms on the solar limb on Sunday, with a wispy filaprom associated the smallest of decayed active regions.  This is the bounty that solar minimum delivers!  Taken with the SM90 double stacked with a Daystar Quark with the FLIR GH3 ICX814 camera.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Closeup Plage In Calcium Light 17th March

Zooming in on the region of decaying plage using the 100mm scope somewhere up around 2000mm focal length with the homebrew CaK filter and FLIR CH3 camera.  The Airylab SSM was used to only harvest the best frames with the unstable polar maritime airmass that was over the UK this Sunday.

CaK Full Disk 17th March

Viewing the sun in Calcium wavelengths showed a number of areas of plage around the solar equator that mark where active regions from previous rotations.  These are the remnants of activity from solar cycle 24.  Taken with a 60mm scope at f15 with the homebrew CaK filter and a FLIR GH3 ICX814.

Decaying Plage and a Filament - 17th March

Double stacking the Coronado SM90 with a Daystar Quark works well to really narrow the bandwidth and bring out the contrast in hydrogen alpha images.  This has the effect of making the filament much darker but also bringing out the brighter plage from the remains of a previous active region.  Taken with the FLIR GH3 ICX814 camera.

Ha Full Disk 17th March

The sun is quiet at the moment, a small filament when looking closer reveals a region of plage that shows relic active regions from previous rotations.  Apart from that very little is going on, even the prominences are small.  Taken with the Coronado SM90 with a FLIR GH3 ICX814 camera.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

CaK Full Disk 9th March

A quick CaK full disk in between the passing clouds, seeing was awful and very difficult to find focus.  Still nice to see the active regions we currently have, even if the image is soft.  Taken with the 40mm f10 and 2x cemax barlow, grasshopper ICX814 camera.  Hoping for some better images tomorrow!

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Icelandair FI450 Solar Transit 24th February


Happy whilst observing on Sunday morning to see the silhouette of a plane pass in front of the sun.  I quickly checked flight radar and was surprised to see it was Icelandair flight FI450.  Taken with the SM90 double stacked with the Daystar Quark and PGR Grasshopper 3 ICX814 camera using 2x2 binning.

8 Minutes in the Life of the Sun - 24th February

Using the same setup as in the previous image the sky was blue for long enough to try a bit of a timelapse, only 8 minutes here but it shows the sun doesn't stay the same for long!

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Plage Closeups In Ha - 24th February

One of the ways to get more detail and contrast when imaging the sun is to use a double stacked filter,  Thows the region of plage on the limb.  Coronado  SM90, Daystar Quark and the PGR Grasshoppr 3.

Ha Full Disk 24th February

Very little to see on the full disk in Ha this weekend, just a small region of quiet plage departing the limb.  Not even any proms to speak of!  Taken with the Coronado SM90 with the PGR Grasshopper 3 ICX814 camera.

CaK Full Disk 24th february

The better seeing on sunday meant this CaK disk turned out the way I was hoping for!  Be sure to double click the image, it's a big one! Taken with the skywatcher ED80 stopped down to 60mm, the PGR Grasshopper 3 ICX814 camera, and the homebrew CaK filter.

CaK Closeup - 24th February

The seeing was having it's better moments on Sunday, so decided to get a closeup on the region of departing plage using the 100mm refractor at f20+, using the PGR Chameleon running in 12bit mode.  Quite surprised at how clean the image came out.  Taken with the homebrew CaK filter.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Filaments Approaching The Limb - 23rd February

Another view of the snaking filament as it approaches the solar limb.  Taken with the SM90 and a Daystar Quark for double stacking.

Dark Filaments 23rd February

The main feature of interest today was a dark filament emanating from a region of plage from a relic active region.  This has been quite dynamic over the past couple of days and just before imaging this a large section lifted off as the magnetic fields binding it snapped.  The image was taken with the SM90 double stacked with a daystar Quark and used the PGR GH3 ICX814 camera.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Ha Full Disk 23rd February

The seeing was not great for the SM90 today - the spicule ring was just a featureless ring rather than the dancing forest of pampas grass it can be when conditions are good.  Still, despite the sun being devoid of the usual prominences there was a nice filament and region of plage approaching the limb.  Taken at 800mm focal length with the Grasshopper 3 ICX818 camera.

Plage Closeup in CaK - 23rd February

There was a patch of plage exiting the solar disk today from a relic active region from previous rotations.  Seeing was not great but I imaged at 2.5 focal length at 80mm aperture using the PGR Grasshopper 3 ICX814 using 2x2 binning to get a better sampling rate.  As with the full disk a smaller aperture would have likely yielded better results but on the whole i'm happy with this.

CaK Full Disk 23rd february

A far from ideal CaK full disk, but the first one i've been able to take in a while.  The sun was heading into the trees (see the shadow bottom right) and the seeing was less than ideal for the 80mm aperture used, but it does show that the 1000mm focal length used fits easily on the chip of the PGR ICX814 sensor.  Next time i'll try backing off the aperture to 60mm and see how I get on.  

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Relic Active Regions Closeup - 9th February

The sun may at times appear to be blank and featureless but there is often the subtle details, here is a old relic active region from a few rotations ago revealing itself as nothing more than turbulent plage.  Taken with the SM90 and 2.5x barlow with the PGR Blackfly IMX249 camera.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Solar Minimum Sunshine 9th February

Nothing to see here, move along...  Saturdays disk is fairly typical of a solar minimum sun - the disk looks blank.  There is a small region of very decayed plage from active regions several rotations ago but that it is it on the surface.  The proms were the star of the show, and looked fantastic through the SM90 with an 18mm Coronado Cemax eyepiece.  This image is a composite disk / proms shot with the PGR GH3 ICX814 camera.  Poor seeing and haze were the order of the morning to give imaging that extra challenge, but it is nice to see the sun rising higher and higher in the sky with each passing week.  Wonder how long these conditions will last until we see the signs of cycle 25 becoming more predominant and obvious in the solar northern hemisphere?

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Ha Full Disk With a New Setup - 3rd February

A new year and a new solar setup.  As mentioned in previous posts I have a PGR Grasshopper 3 with a ICX814 chip that gives a 9.1Mp image which is great for full disks up to 1000mm focal length.  I just bought a Coronado SM90ii, a rather nice scope that is fitted with a Feathertouch focuser.

With it's 800mm focal length the full disk fits comfortably on the ICX814 chip with room to spare, and with no newtons rings visible no tilt is needed either.  Todays conditions were hazy at best and the sun is still skirting in the top of the trees, but with each passing week it gets higher and conditions get better.  Looking forward to seeing what this scope is capable of this year!

Friday, 4 January 2019

Tangerine in the Trees - 4th January

More of an opportunity to try out some new kit rather than go for a decent image of the sun here, but also the first chance to image for many weeks!  The day after solar perihelion there was a brief gap in the ever so persistent cloud we seem to have been graced with for months and I had a brief window before the sun started to drift back into the tree line and low sky haze.  I have just had a Skywatcher AZ Gti Alt Az mount, a dinky little thing that can be picked up with one hand that is controlled via wifi.  With a payload of 5kg I figured it would be an ideal grab and go mount for when there's not much time available.  Today I tried it with my Technosky 60mm f6 with a Lunt 50 etalon.  I was also trying out my new full disk camera - a PGR Grasshopper 3 9.1Mp with the Sony ICX814 chip; this camera offers a chip size of 3376x2704 pixels, as a result I also used a Coronado 2x cemax barlow to fill up the chip with the solar image.  The camera allows a full disk up to about 1000mm focal length so will have some interesting possibilities.  I was pleased that absolutely no tilt was needed with the camera.  Clouds had already started to drift back so there was little time to concentrate on tuning the etalon, but it did reveal AR2732, an equatorial spot from the tail end of cycle 24, a few small proms were also visible.  Just nice to see our star for a change!

Sunday, 18 November 2018

More Signs of Cycle 25? - 18th November


Sunday mornings HMI image shows active region 2727 has developed a bit as it edges closer to the limb with a well developed bipolar spot group giving a sunspot number of 13.  Polar faculae are visible at both poles and at northern mid latitudes a very small couple of pores are visible.  This is visible on the AIA1700 image a region of brighter faculae.


And looking at the Gong image from Learmouth there is a brighter patch visible in Ha wavelengths.


While this activity from cycle 25 is not large scale at the moment it is clearly making itself visible and is worth monitoring in the days and weeks ahead.  Looking on the SOHO image it looks like a bit more activity may round the limb in the next couple of days.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

AR12727 - The Last Sunspot of Cycle 24? - 17th November

The current HMI image is typical of solar minimum.  On the solar equator there is active region 12727, quite possibly the last sunspot grouping of cycle 24.  Magnetic bands on the solar equator are slowly cancelling out with this activity; the active region is also preceded by a patch of plage closer to the limb.  Polar faculae are also visible as bright points, here there are coronal holes currently too.
In the last couple of solar rotations there have been signs of activity in northern higher latitudes on our star that showed reverse magnetic polarity.  This reversal in polarity is what differentiates solar cycles.  



Given that cycle 24 was a double peaked, with the northern hemisphere preceding the southern hemisphere, it is rational to assume that we should start to see the first signs of cycle 25 in the solar northern hemisphere.  Indeed only a week ago a small emerging flux region recently had a few small pore spots that had reversed polarity compared to cycle 25.  Pretty much all of the solar models are predicting cycle 25 will be weaker than 24 with a lower average sunspot number.  

The international sunspot number forecast from the Royal Observatory of Belgium made at the start of this month suggests we will see an uptick in solar activity as cycle 25 kicks in early in 2019.  I would speculate that given these double peaked solar cycles and that cycle 24 had the northern hemisphere peaking over 3 years before the southern hemisphere, with cycle 25 forecast to be weaker that it may well be that the frequency of the hemispherical peaks may well be longer in between.  In which case the activity of recent rotations is indeed cycle 25 activity.   It will be interesting to see how the ROB updates it's next prediction early in December.  It could well be that we are already seeing the uptick in graph they are predicting.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Ha Full Disk - 11th November

It's been a while with one thing or another since I last managed to get some solar observing in, however Sunday afternoon offered some low altitude sun to look at.  While the disk is at first sight comparatively quiet it indeed tells a story; the small emerging flux region mid disk is the last relics of cycle 24 throwing out magnetic flux, however the northern polar crown marks the boundary of the northern jet stream where cycle 25 will kick off, and near the limb on the right hand side it is possible to see the remnants of a small spot with reversed polarity, typifying it to be the next solar cycle.  The shots were taken with double stacked Lunt 50 etalons and the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.  The proms below looked great visually in single stack mode. 

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Ha Full Disk - 23rd September

The sun was very quiet today, with only a few very small filaments on the disk, however a collection of nice small proms made up for this.  Taken with the DS50 and PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

Sunday Prominences - 23rd September



The sun was quiet today but was putting on a nice show of prominences.  I used my new Coronado CEMAX 2x barlow with the DS50 to get some close up views.  The seeing wasn't too bad and got some nice images.  Camera used was the PGR Chameleon 3.

Closeup in Calcium - 23rd September

The seeing was better than I expected today and I managed to get a close up of the faculae that was visible mid disk.  Taken with the 100mm Tal refractor at 2000mm focal length with the home brew CaK filter and the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.  

CaK Full Disk - 23rd September

The sun was mighty quiet today in CaK light, with a few small patches of brighter faculae really the only features on the disk.  Taken with the 40mm scope at f14 with the home brew CaK filter and the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Aurora! - 27th August


We might be in the middle of solar minimum, but when it comes to space weather things don't always happen the way you expect.  On the 21st of August a weak and slow moving coronal mass ejection left the sun, with solar astronomers puzzled as to the source region.  Initially it was thought this would hit on the 24th/25th August, but it wasn't until 26th of August when it did, and also a large crack opened up in Earths magnetic field, the solar wind, fuelled from the CME poured in creating a strong G3 magnetic storm with a kP of 7.  Being in Iceland and under the auroral oval I had been following this closely online, alas on the night of the 26th there was cloud and rain.  The following evening on the 27th was forecast clear with a ground frost so I knew there was a chance of seeing any reverberations as the storm subsided.  Initially as it was dusk high cloud to the north masqueraded as northern lights, but then looking outside to the north east I saw the unmistakable sight of the aurora.  Racing outside I took a number of pictures setting the frame I wanted before settling into a timelapse of the event.  It was a brief affair, over with the naked eye in 15-20 minutes, with fainter more diffuse aurora visible to the camera a little longer.  I persevered for a while before clouds stole the show, but, with every aurora it gives a memory that is never forgotten.




The timelapse is 134 frames with 3 frames per minute, so, roughly over 45 minutes.  Camera used was the aged and trusty Canon 350D, ISO800, 20s, with a sigma 10-20mm zoom on 10mm f4.  The chill in the air and snow on the mountains brought home the fact winter is getting ever closer, reinforced when you can see the Pleiades rising over the tree on the right.  Castor and Pollux in Gemini can be seeing skirting the northern horizon in the still peach coloured twilight arc up here at 66 degrees north.  This was the only aurora i've seen on this trip but I was glad I saw some.


Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Paraselane - 27th August

Something a bit different here; refracted sunlight.  A paraselanae or 'moon dog' is the result of sunlight, reflected from the near full moon in this case then being refracted through heaxgonal prism shaped ice crystals high in the atmosphere.  The left moon dog is very pronounced, but there are also hints of the 22 degree halo, upper tangent arc and possibly moon pillar.  It fits in very nicely with the simulation on halosim.