Friday, 25 November 2011

Late November Sunshine...

Ha Full Disk by Mark Townley
Ha Full Disk, a photo by Mark Townley on Flickr.

Well I though my previous blog entry would have been the last of the season: here in downtown Brierley Hills my southern horizon looks uphill so is falsely elavated, there is however a window of about an hour that I have when the sun passes in a gap between 2 houses. Fortunately for me I was able to capitalise on this and despite some high cloud and very poor seeing I was reasonably pleased with the result.

There is lots to see on the sun today - the filaments are numerous and are almost knotted together. The northern hemisphere is definitely the most active with several active regions. However purely by chance I managed to capture the brightening of a small flare on the south eastern limb.

The shot was taken as a 6 pane mosaic, with the DS40 @ f21 with DMK31 camera. The scope is soon to be further modified with the removal of the stock Coronado ERF and replacement with a Baader 7nm Ha filter. this will significantly reduce thermal load on the blocking filter, and with a higher transmission and tighter bandpass should should an improvement in contrast on what is currently seen. This is my christmas project and I look forward to testing it out and getting some results. I think there is still a bit more that can be squeezed out of the the DS40.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Ha Full Disk - 15th October

ha full disk by Mark Townley
ha full disk, a photo by Mark Townley on Flickr.

The sun is very low in the sky for me now as winter approaches, realistically i can only really observe on weekends, and even then I only have a window of a couple of hours in the gaps in between the houses and the trees. This could possibly be one of my last images for the 2010 season? I hope not...

Solar activity has really ramped up this year, and this picture shows it really well. While there might not be a large number of prominences the disk is alive with activity - active regions and their associated sunspots, flaring, filaments, and on the limb even a filaprom. I will try and observe as much as possible through the winter season, and with activity like this the 2012 season can only get better!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Sundays Proms - 18th September

Not the busiest of days for proms, but I do like the 2.5x Televue Powermate for its ability to zoom in on what little is there!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Solartastic Sunday - 18th September

ha full disk lrg by Mark Townley
ha full disk lrg, a photo by Mark Townley on Flickr.

Solar activity is really starting to ramp up now, and the solar disk is starting to come alive with features - spots, active regions, filaments, filaproms, prominences, plage regions - there's plenty to see.

Nows the time if you have a solar telescope to go out and get a view in - you won't be disappointed!

Saturdays Sun - 17th September

ha full disk final by Mark Townley
ha full disk final, a photo by Mark Townley on Flickr.

After what seems an age without getting any solar viewing in, saturday finally allowed some clear skies. It was worth it! A fantastic sun presented itself!

Friday, 2 September 2011

Flaming Proms! 1st September

Proms by Mark Townley
Proms, a photo by Mark Townley on Flickr.

Don't usually do too many proms shots, but these were just too photogenic to miss!

Big Purple Sun - 1st September

cak full disk by Mark Townley
cak full disk, a photo by Mark Townley on Flickr.

The sun at CaK wavelengths looks fantastic when there is alot of activity, and today was no exception. Must make a point of taking more of these images!

This was taken with the 70mm frac @ f10, homemade Baader/Coronado hybrid CaK filter and DMK31 camera. This is a result of 6 panes assembled in Imerge.

Spotty Sun - 1st September

wl full disk by Mark Townley
wl full disk, a photo by Mark Townley on Flickr.

This has got to be the spottiest sun i've been able to observe in sometime. This image was taken with the 70mm frac at f12, Lunt Solar Wedge, DMK31 and 705nm TiO filter. Despite the poor seeing conditions - the solar disk was boiling away in the eyepeice, the long wavelength and narrow bandpass of the TiO filter cut through the turbulent atmosphere and the image was rock steady on the laptop screen. The TiO filter is worthy addition to any white light observers arsenal, used with a solar wedge and refractor the views are excellent. The filter can be purchased from Omega Optical via EBay

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Thursdays Fiery Sun - 1st September

Ha Full Disk Colour copy by Mark Townley
Ha Full Disk Colour copy, a photo by Mark Townley on Flickr.

Today was the first day in what seemed like ages with clear skies, and, as such, I decided to capitalise on it.

There's everything on offer today - active regions, sun spots, filaments, filaproms and glorious prominences. More images to come, stay tuned for updates!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Prominence Animation - 21st August

Here is my first attempt at a prominence animation.  This represents about 40 frames taken over a roughly 30 minute period.  The cadence is 45 seconds.  Not sure why registax decided to very the brightness of some of the frames - but it did!  Something for me to work out!   This was taken with the DS40 at the scopes native focal length of 420mm using the DMK31 camera.  I look forward to having some decent weather and being able to have a go at somemore.


Thursday, 25 August 2011

'Angry Sun' - Sunday 21st August

full disk Ha copy by Mark Townley
full disk Ha copy, a photo by Mark Townley on Flickr.

Lots going on in this image of an 'Angry Sun' - Finally solar activity is showing some promise!

Monday, 15 August 2011

'Promtastic Monday' - 15th August

full disk b&w by Mark Townley
full disk b&w, a photo by Mark Townley on Flickr.

I had a very brief window early this morning to get some frames to make a mosaic of the sun. The proms and filaments were fantastic today, and rounding the limb an as yet unamed active region. Hopefully these proms will last a few days more!

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Ha Full Disk - 31st July (Flats & Darks Update)

full disk colour final by Mark Townley
full disk colour final, a photo by Mark Townley on Flickr.

Well the weather for me of late (read this summer!) has been diabolical - the weathermans definition of fine sunny weather seems to be lots of clouds with the sun poking out now and then. This isn't much good for solar other than for a quick glimpse visually, and is certainly no good for imaging.

I was pleased to see this morning clearish skies, the milkiness had a tinge of blue to it, so I decided to go and get the solar kit setup. I was initially none too optimistic about what the results would be like, but as I processed the FITS files in Registax for wavelets I was pleasantly surprised at what was coming out.

There is a real show of active regions spanning the northern hemisphere on the Earthward side of the sun, with associated flaring and filaments to boot. The haze obscured the proms visually but they came out ok in the end on the image.

This was made using dark and 'pseudo flat' frames, and from my perspective the biggest impact these are having on my images apart from the removal of banding and dust motes, is how evenly illuminated the frame is. More subtly is the spicule ring around the solar perimeter is much more obvious. 40mm aperture isn't going to resolve individual spicules, however it is clearly visible whereas previouslly was not.

I'm officially now 'on holiday', so weather permitting should be able to get images up on here more often!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Ha Full Disk - 24th July: Update on Flats...

full disk f26 lrg by Mark Townley
full disk f26 lrg, a photo by Mark Townley on Flickr.

After weeks of poor weather here in the West Midlands this sunday was a day with gloriously clear skies, deep blue, and in the morning with good seeing conditions too.

I decided to try out my new 2.5x Televue Powermate; this is an excellent piece of glass as I expected and shows lots of promise. The image here is a 12 pane mosaic constructed in IMerge. I used both a flat and dark frame for this, and it is clear that using these is solar imaging is a positive way forward. The image is very even in terms of illumination, and displays much finer detail than with not using the flats and darks. These will be a standard part of my solar imaging process now.

This was taken with the DS40 @ f26, DMK31 camera.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Ha Full Disk - 9th July: Using Flat Fields...

ha full disk b&w by Mark Townley
ha full disk b&w, a photo by Mark Townley on Flickr.
There has been some discussion of late on the Cloudy Nights Solar forum as to the use of flat fields in solar imaging. My DMK31 chip is generally kept spotless in terms of dust and other contaminants, so have no use for a flat field there. However various lenses I use are susceptible to the diffraction effect known as 'Newtons Rings', this manifests itself as a series of light and dark bands across the image caused by interference patterns generated as a result of working in monochromatic light. In addition there is also a fainter (but still there) banded pattern that appears to be etalon related. I knew that a flat field should remove both of these banding artefacts.

The purpose of a flat field is to generate an image that can be 'subtracted' from your final image that removes all artefacts caused by variations in pixel to pixel sensitivity, plus any distortions in the optical path.

Generating a flat field was relatively simple: as I was imaging using a barlow it is possible to image the very centre of the solar disk. Defocussing removes all detail that is present on the solar disk, but all the banding artefacts remain easily visible. An AVI is taken of this which can then be fed into Avistack2 during stacking.

This image is the result: There is no banding visible and the frame as a whole is very evenly illuminated. Bear in mind, this is a 6 pane mosaic also. Fine detail is also greatly enhanced. I'm really pleased with this, and next time the sun cares to return I will also take a dark frame and include this in the processing workflow.

Hope you like it!

CaK Full Disk - 9th July

cak full disk f18 by Mark Townley
cak full disk f18, a photo by Mark Townley on Flickr.

Low activity is echoed at CaK wavelengths, however there is always something to see!

White Light Full Disk - 9th July

wl full disk f20 by Mark Townley
wl full disk f20, a photo by Mark Townley on Flickr.

Activity on the sun, while there, is still generally very low. There was a smittering of spots on the suns surface yesterday but nothing spectacular. Still, it made for a nice full disk mosaic. 6 panes assembled in IMerge with the 70mm frac at f12, Lunt solar wedge, 705nm TiO filter and DMK31 camera.

Monday, 27 June 2011

AR11236 Departing @ 706nm 'TiO' Wavelengths - 26th June

AR11236 made itself famous over the last week or so as a single behemoth spot that was characterised with a 'light bridge' that split it in two. This can just be made out in this image. This is a large active region that has a single small trailing spot. The active region is characterised by a lot of bright white faculae that can be seen standing out on the granulation of the solar disk. Todays WL shots were taken with the 706nm 'TiO' filter that has a magical effect of taming seeing.

AR11241 @ 706nm 'TiO' Wavelengths

A loose cluster of small spots in this relatively quiet active region...

White Light Full Disk - 26th June

wl full disk by Mark Townley
wl full disk, a photo by Mark Townley on Flickr.

When the most obvious features on the sun in WL are faculae around the limb it's a sure sign things are quiet on el-sol. Still, it makes for a nice disk!

CaK Full Disk 26th June

cak full disk copy by Mark Townley
cak full disk copy, a photo by Mark Townley on Flickr.

When there's not a huge amount going on in white light on the disk as a whole, CaK always shows the solar jet streams well, even if everyone on Earth has decided they are shutting down...

AR11241 @ CaK Wavelengths

CaK showed up this active region very well, including the spots.

AR11240 CaK Wavelengths

No much to see in the visible end of the spectrum, but CaK was showing up the plasma froth very well indeed.

Surge Prominence - 26th June

eruptive prom by Mark Townley
eruptive prom, a photo by Mark Townley on Flickr.

Something is coming over the limb, spitting and spluttering as it does so, this was a very dynamic prominence to observe visually!

Ha Full Disk 26th June

ha full disk by Mark Townley
ha full disk, a photo by Mark Townley on Flickr.

First proper test of the DS40 with the ERF removed from the primary etalon. This has resulted in image brightness roughly twice what i was getting before, allowing more magnfication at the eyepeice and roughly a halving of exposure time with the CCD. Next step is to calibrate the alignment of the TMax tuning unit - I have made a gasket to assist with this and this should offer an improvement in even field illumination. A reasonably quiet sun was visible on sunday, but made for a nice frame either way.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Ha Full Disk 21st June

Ha Full Disk by Mark Townley
Ha Full Disk, a photo by Mark Townley on Flickr.

Had a nice bonus when I home from work in that the streamers of clouds that have been frequenting my skies of late managed to actually sit either side of the sun meaning I could get the scope out and get some imaging in.

Todays sun is a pretty one - not the huge prominences we have seen of late, but smaller more dainty ones. Filament wise there were some that were thin sharply defined, yet these were somewhat more ill defined and broader towards the limb. The active regions on the sun were very apparent through the eyepeice.

Hope you like it!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

AR11236 Light Bridge, Dark Filament

There seems to be some discussion as to exactly what the 'Light Bridges' are that divide large sunspots such as the one that dominates AR11236 However, from my perspective, looking at this picture it is quite clear that a 'Light Bridge' is just a filament that sits over the top of a sunspot. It is light against the black of the sunspot core, however either side it can be seen to extend as a dark filament hovvering above the brighter solar disk.

Sadly today was dominated by cloud and only intermittent gaps, as such this is the only capture of note that I managed. Visually the sun was very impressive with plenty of prominences all around the limb.

Hopefully the 'British Summer' will improve from the cloud and rain of late and I will be abler to get somemore views in!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Blurry Ha Full Disk - 14th June

ha full disk by Mark Townley
ha full disk, a photo by Mark Townley on Flickr.

Today was a race against time - i woke up this morning to perfectly blue skies, however work beckoned so off I had to go. However through the day a weather front was getting ever closer, slowly dropping transparency with a haze of thickening high cloud. By the time I did get home skies were hazy but this wasn't going to stop me, for a UK summer i've not got as much imaging in as I would like so have to capitalise on every opportunity.

This was a challenging image to get; a 6 pane mosaic, with each pane showing variations in brightness. In addition, the 2x nosepeice i'm using not only gives me Newtons rings, but also demonstrates quite noticeable field curavture across the frame. This manifests itself as a blurring in the mosaic joins. The 1.6x nosepeice I have been using is optically great, however doesn't give me the magnification i'm after - no such thing as a free lunch! I'm twitching to get a Meade 2x teleextender to rememdy these problems!

Todays sun is interesting though - the 'new spot' looks a nice and i'm sure is going to prove photogenic for many in the days ahead. Haze was robbing the shot of contrast and hiding the fainter proms and spicules, but some sun is better than no sun!

Hope you like!


Saturday, 11 June 2011

Ha Full Disk 11th June

Ha Full Disk Lrg by Mark Townley
Ha Full Disk Lrg, a photo by Mark Townley on Flickr.

Over the last week or so the sun has been really busy, throwing out one of the largest flares in a while. However now it has quietened off again; there are a couple of active regions and a smittering of filaments. There were some really nice proms visible though! This is a 'one shot' 6 frame mosaic, taken with the DS40 at f20.

CaK Full Disk 11th June

cak full disk lrg by Mark Townley
cak full disk lrg, a photo by Mark Townley on Flickr.

Full disk taken with the homemade CaK filter, 70mm refractor @ f11 and DMK31 camera. This is a mosaic of 6 frames. Seeing was deteriorating as I was getting the subs for this image, and this can be seen as parts of the image not being as sharp as they can be...

AR11234 @ 705nm TiO Wavelength

This saturday morning afforded a few hours of sunshine before the clouds and showers that are associated with the unsettled airmass that currently resides over the UK. After a week when the sun was putting on some real fireworks todays disk was relatively blank at visible wavelengths, with AR11234 being the most prominent feature. This was taken with the 127mm frac @ f19, Lunt wedge, 705nm TiO filter and DMK31 camera. Realistically this was too long a focal length to be using as the image isn't as sharp as I would like or know is possible. Good old British seeing conditions!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Ha Near Full Disk - 4th June

ha part full disk lrg by Mark Townley
ha part full disk lrg, a photo by Mark Townley on Flickr.

A quick shot yesterday through the briefest of gaps! If the clouds ever go today I want to get some more pics taken, activity on the sun is really hotting up at the moment!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

CaK Full Disk 24th May

cak full disk, originally uploaded by Mark Townley.

My double stacked homemade CaK filter continues to impress me pulling out plenty of detail. Despite a very quiet sun there is still a reasonable amount of structure visible on the disk. Looking forward to being able to image again at this wavelength with the 127mm frac!

Ha Full Disk 24th May

ha full disk, originally uploaded by Mark Townley.

After over 2 weeks of not being able to image because of poor weather here in middle England today finally presented a chance! A relatively featureless and quiet disk was complemented by a decent display of proms!

Taken with the DS40 @ f9, DMK31, 6 pane mosaic in IMerge.

I'm getting aperture fever at these wavelengths big time now - might have to start weighing up the options! ;-)

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Ha & CaK Montage 8th May

ha cak montage, originally uploaded by Mark Townley.

April showers are arriving late in the UK at the moment - it's May! Despie the unstable airmass and it's unpredictable showers I ventured out this sunday afternoon to get some imaging in.

The Ha shot is taken with the Coronado DS40 etalon @ f9 with a DMK31 camera. Exposure time was 1/77sec.

The CaK shot was taken with my homemade 'Baader-Nado filter', 70mm f11, DMK31 camera @ 1/2000 sec exposure.

Hoping I can get somemore images in as the week goes on!!!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Ha Full Disk 3rd May

ha full disk, originally uploaded by Mark Townley.

Taken as a 6 pane mosaic with the DS40 tuesdays sun was a pretty affair with lots of disk detail and lots of small hairy proms around the limb. Looks like unsettled weather may be returning for me now, so possibly the last image for a day or 3. Hope you like it!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

3 Disk Montage - 1st May

3 Disk Montage, originally uploaded by Mark Townley.

Despite clear skies here in the West Midlands we are buffeted by gusting and at times quite strong winds. As a result imaging at longer focal lengths with the 127mm scope isn't an option. So for today, the 1st of may, observations were restricted to using the smaller, lighter 70mm refractor. Each of the images that make up this montage was in turn made up from several frames in the form of a mosaic.

Clicking on the image in this blog, and then again on the image in Flickr will let the viewer see this image in it's original full size, which is pretty big and well worth doing!!!

Thursday, 28 April 2011

CaK Full Disk 27th April

cak full disk, originally uploaded by Mark Townley.

Here's another 6 pane mosaic taken with my homemade CaK filter, 70mm frac @ f11 and DMk31 camera. I had a tweak with the alignment of the second interference filter in the setup and this seems to yield slightly more detail than previous images. I like being able to image the sun at these wavelengths with larger aperture than the CaK PST! :)

Monday, 25 April 2011

CaK Full Disk 25th April

cak full disk, originally uploaded by Mark Townley.

I've been away on holiday for a short break over the Easter weekend, however the day before leaving I finally successfully completed the prototype design for a CaK filter. This filter uses 2 sets of interference filters, both centred on 394nm, however these are set slightly offset to each other in a tilt tuned arrangement to tighten the bandpass still further. An energy rejection filter is also incorporated in the optical train, prior to the tilt tuned CaK filters which enables the filter to be used with either my 70mm or 127mm refractor. I haven't got many images so far from this setup, although first impressions are very favourable. Detail levels are high, and seem to have better resolution than commercially available Lunt CaK wedges? Maybe this is a result of a tighter bandpass? The Coronado CaK setups have a 2.2A pass, where as the Lunts have a 2.4A pass.

Transmission levels are very high, and while most definitely not suitable from a safety point of view for visual observation, exposure times are in the region of 1/2000th second at zero gain @ f11 with the DMK31. This has the potential to capitalise on the moments of good seeing, and also the possibility of exploring prominences at CaK wavelengths.

This is going to prove to be a very interesting filter!!!

Ha Full Disk 25th April

ha full disk 2, originally uploaded by Mark Townley.

The weather has been behaving this month, and as such i've been lucky to be able to observe and image on a regular basis. Here's bank holiday mondays full disk taken with the DS40 and DMK31. This is a 'one shot'. Today had alot of interesting proms and filaments on display which were a visual treat in the eyepiece!


AR1195 127mm 1900mm 706nm, originally uploaded by Mark Townley.

Taken with my 127mm refractor at 1900mm fl, 706nm filter and DMK31 camera, the main active region on the sun today puts on a good show!

Monday, 18 April 2011

AR1191 AR1193 Hi-Res Mosaic

AR1191 AR1193 Hi Res Mosaic, originally uploaded by Mark Townley.

The best seeing conditions of the year so far allowed me this morning to do a high res mosaic of active regions 1191 & 1193. The shot was taken with my 127mm refractor, Lunt solar wedge, 706nm TiO filter and DMK31 camera. The mosaic was made using IMerge.

For best effect click on this link for the full size high res version of this image - MUCH better than the small preview on this blog!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

AR1191 & AR1193 @ 706nm

Solar activity is really hotting up now, with several large active regions on the disk. Here is a good example of this in the form of AR1191 and AR1193. This image was taken with the 127mm refractor at 1900mm focal length using the 706nm TiO filter and DMK31 camera. Unfortunately poor seeing on this day meant this was as 'close' as I could get to these spots before image resolution just fell away. Still, i'm pleased with the detail this image shows!

AR1190 @ 706nm

AR1190 TiO 127mm 1900mm, originally uploaded by Mark Townley.

The 706nm TiO filter has been working overtime, with it's ability to produce top notch images in the worst of seeing conditions it promises to deliver the goods over and over again in this new solar maximum!

Ha Full Disk 16th April

ha full disk, originally uploaded by Mark Townley.

I got what I consider to be one of my best ever Ha full disks yesterday. This is a 4 pane mosaic stitched together in IMerge. Apart from a slight uneveness in brightness it's pretty much near perfect. The image was taken with my DS40 @ f16 with DMK31 camera. Click on the image to open up in full size!

CaK Full Disk 16th April

cak full disk, originally uploaded by Mark Townley.

I recently purchased a Baader K-Line CaK filter for ultra violet images of the sun. I'm in the process of making a hybrid filter using elements from a CaK PST to narrow the bandpass of the standard filter. I'm currently using ND3.8 film as the primary filter, though shortly are hoping to use this filter in conjunction with a bespoke Herschel wedge. Fingers crossed this is currently being assembled for me by an engineer in Italy. The plan will be to use this wedge to image solely at CaK wavelengths and should afford faster shutter speeds than i'm currently getting with this setup.

There is currently nowhere near the contrast achieved by the CaK PST, however by using the Baader K-Line and optical elements from the CaK PST should improve things considerably. I will then be able to use this setup with my 70mm and 127mm refractors and afford considerable improvement in resolution, without the 100mm CaK aperture limit imposed if I were to use a Lunt CaK wedge. As always, stay tuned for updates!

TiO full disk 16th April

TiO full disk, originally uploaded by Mark Townley.

The problem with a blog like this is that there can only ever be one picture at the top of the page! Now I have images coming in quicker than I can blog them as the weather gets better! This is a 4 frame mosaic taken with the 70mm frac at f9 using the 706nm TiO filter. At the moment we have a spotty sun and this shows it well.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Full Disk Mosaic 706nm TiO

big sun pano lrg, originally uploaded by Mark Townley.

I decided to have a go at putting a 'proper' mosaic together for the first time using IMerge - I've done this in CS4 before, but this is a time consuming process and the results in my mind never warranted effort in.

This was constructed using the 70mm refractor @ f9, 706nm Tio filter and DMK31. 6 panes were taken and joined in IMerge.

I'm really pleased with the results - lovely and sharp! The transparency was variable, and as a result the image is maybe not as sharp as I know it could be across the disk as a whole, but for a first attempt i'm impressed!

This is one to click and view at maximum resolution, plenty to see!

Active Region 1184 @ 706nm TiO

AR1184 127mm f17 706nm, originally uploaded by Mark Townley.

This image was taken with a low altitude sun ~ 10 degrees through so high cloud, and given these conditions i'm really pleased with the results. There's plenty of detail visible in the umbra and penumbra, and the granulation is reasonably prominent too. I'm fairly confident that with a higher altitude sun, good transparency and seeing that the results will be considerably better. Taken with 127mm f17 706nm DMK31.

Active Region 1185

ar1185 127mm f17, originally uploaded by Mark Townley.

Close up here of AR1185 using the 127mm refractor at f17, 706nm TiO filter. Given the low altitude of the sun at the time the results are pleasing!