Friday, 29 November 2013
Sunday, 24 November 2013
Wednesday, 20 November 2013
With all the recent solar activity it was only a matter of time before another flare occurred. On 19th november at 10.26ut departing sunspot AR11893 crackled with a massive X-1 flare. While the explosion was not squarely directed at Earth this flare did affect our planet, with the UV flash creating a wave of ionisation in the upper atmosphere over Europe, Asia and part of Africa with a brief high frequency radio blackout occurring over the poles. The explosion hurled off a huge CME however this is not aimed at our planet.
Sunday, 17 November 2013
Thursday, 14 November 2013
To me, the main benefit of the double stacked CaK filter is the real increase in contrast it brings. These CaK images are pretty much 'naked' - they were shot with gamma neutral (100) on the DMK31 camera, and the only post processing is sharpening and colouring. They were taken with the 100mm at f10 with the homebrew CaK filter using the Lunt wedge as an ERF. The only problem with this setup is at longer focal lengths and with a lower altitude sun, the exposures are getting too long; this is going to be remedied very soon as I have a triple band ERF enroute from Germany. This will be mounted sub aperture in the Tal 100mm refractor, and with a Moonlite focuser fitted should become an ultimate solar telescope...
The 1.5 angstrom bandwidth of the double stack CaK filter comes into play as shown in this image with the prominences and surge jets just about visible. Given that this image was taken in november, only just over a month away from the winter solstice, the result is pretty impressive. I think images taken in 6 months time, when we will have the sun much higher in the sky, will show prominences quite readily. Now, I just need to take this setup several thousand metres up a mountain and the views would be indiscernible from those taken from space...
I seem to have got the reflection issue with the double stack CaK filter sorted out (the reflection is out of the fov!) - as a result there is a lot more contrast visible. Infact, if you click on the full disk image and view it in Flickr it is quite easy to see the prominences at the 8 o'clock position. Bear in mind that this image was taken with the 40mm ota at f20 with a DMK31 camera and the results are very promising. I may look at getting a 2" Baader U-filter (venus filter) to use as a full aperture ERF with this scope as a way of reducing the thermal load on the Baader K-line filter that is currently being used as a sub aperture ERF.
This monster active region had been responsible for several X-class flares prior to me taking this picture, however at the time of this shot it was just breaking up and showing signs of a light bridges forming. This image is my favourite whitelight from the series shot on the 10th november. Taken with the 100mm frac at 2000mm focal length, Lunt solar wedge, solar continuum filter and DMK31 camera.
It's typical, it's northern winter and the sun is low in the sky and has really started to bustle with activity. Contrails hindered this full disk a little, but the end result is passable and gives a good overview. Taken with the 40mm @ f20 DMK31.
Friday, 8 November 2013
So far we have raised over $11000 towards our target of $15000, however there is still 3 weeks left to donate money towards this good cause. For each donation of $100 you will receive a raffle ticket for the fantastic pressure tuned Lunt 60 solar telescope above. However any amount, no matter how small you wish to donate will be going towards achieving and hopefully exceeding our target. If you have not donated towards this I would strongly urge you - If you have received free solar glasses then it is the Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project that has paid for them.
Donations can be made online using paypal here!
Tuesday, 5 November 2013
I have visited Iceland a number of times to view the aurora borealis, the interaction of the charged particles of the solar wind and our Earth's upper atmosphere. This causes the dance of ribbons of colour across the night sky. However despite several visits in recent years bad weather has not allowed me to make any observations since 2010. This October we returned to Iceland for a weeks holiday and needless to say looking out for the northern lights was a priority. We had travelled to Myvatn in Northern Iceland and were staying in a wooden lodge; the Icelandic weather service were promising clear skies around midnight, and this was also confirmed by a local who said he was going at midnight with a view to photographing them. This was good enough for me, so at midnight I ventured out in the -12c freezing landscape. The first thing that struck me was how clear the sky was and just how many stars were visible - Jupiter seemed nearly bright enough to cast shadows. I looked to the northern sky and could see a faint green arc, slightly brighter than the milky way. I knew activity wasn't high, the Kp index at the time was at 1 on the scale which is basically next to nothing, however this was the first time in 3 years I had a chance so you have to take what is on offer. I used my regular aurora photographic setup; a canon 350D on iso800 shooting consecutive 30 second exposures, the lens was a Sigma 10-22mm at 10mm f4. I managed 77 minutes of continuous exposures before the camera battery started to give up the ghost, and as this was now after 2am I was getting rather cold and tired. At several times throughout this session I could see the rays and streamers shooting up from the horizon, and the ripples and waves moving along the green arc. It has taken some work to get the time lapse presented in such a way that the subtle details are not lost through image compression, and as a spin off i'm hopeful some of this new learned technique should lend itself to producing higher resolution solar animations - however the proof of that will have to wait until the sun returns higher in the sky next year.
Sunday, 3 November 2013
Our star is crackling with solar flare energy at the moment with several large active regions currently on view. Throw in some great filaments and prominences and this makes for a fine sight in the shorter days of November. This image was taken with the Coronado DS40 at f20 with the DMK31 camera.
The sun was getting low and the sky was getting hazy late on sunday afternoon when I took this shot, and despite it being a little softer than I like, for an early november image I don't think it is too bad. Tilting the notch filters with respect to each other (and the baader K-line) has sorted out the issue with ghosting that I was getting with previous images. I'm happy with the contrast i'm getting from this setup now, and are really looking forward to the spring when the sun starts climbing higher in the sky again...