Sunday, 31 August 2014
I'm fighting to find any decent blue bits of sky at all this sunday afternoon, but when the sun does come out it is looking good with plenty to see; the large filament that is nearly sitting mid disk spans a whopping 350,000km, and there are 2 large active regions both crackling away with small scale flare activity. I'm going to be lucky to get anymore images from the last day of august, but will keep on trying regardless. Taken with the DS40 at 700mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
Posted by Mark Townley at Sunday, August 31, 2014
Friday, 29 August 2014
AR12146 shows the Wilson effect quite well in this shot, the foreshortening a sunspot takes as it nears the limb. Not only this but also a nice prominence also visible as are hints of the filaments in and around this active region. The image was taken with the 100mm TAL refractor stopped down to 80mm using a homebrew CaK filter and an Imaging Source DMK31 camera.
All the plage that is visible around these spots is indicative of high magnetic fields and also higher levels of activity. These 3 spots were framed nicely using the 80mm at 1000mm focal length with the homebrew CaK filter and the DMK31 camera.
AR12146 was very nearly on the limb of the sun, and had a beta-gamma-delta magnetic field that had potential for eruptions, in fact NASA gave a 40% chance of an M-class flare and a 5% chance of an X-class flare. The clouds finally broke on thursday afternoon, and so I decided to train my telescope on this region, and using the autorun feature in firecapture image acquisition software and the Hutech solar guider to lock onto our star I set about recording a timelapse of our star. Now while the larger flares didn't happen, there was a small C1 class eruption that was still the largest explosion for several light years that hurled out a large blob of plasma out into inter planetary space several times larger than Earth. This animation shows you don't need a large or overly expensive solar scope to view these events on our sun, and was taken with a 40mm Coronado scope and Imaging Source DMK31 camera.
Thursday, 28 August 2014
The seeing conditions were being remarkably obliging first thing wednesday morning; the air was cool and clear and feeling remarkably autumnal for an august morning. This stillness and clarity was great for CaK observing, and, as a result I was able to up the focal length up to 2250mm on the 80mm setup, giving me near f28. I could have probably got away with running at 100mm aperture for this, but want to do more work on the ERF on this configuration to get more light throughput. Reflection and ghosting issues seem to be all dealt with now with the homebrew CaK filter, but as always there is always room for improvement. The camera used was the imaging source DMK31.
Wednesday, 27 August 2014
This active region was putting on a great view as it approached the limb displaying lovely faculae. I tried something a bit different here today and it worked: Imaging at 3600mm focal length is not something I can do very often at all, and when I initially tried the image was very blurry on the laptop screen. So I decided to change the sampling rate of the camera by using 2x2 binning, this has the effect of doubling the effective pixel size, doubling the sensitivity of the chip (reducing exposure), but importantly allowing me to be able to image at this much longer focal length and still get a decent image. This was taken with the 100mm Tal refractor at 3600mm focal length with the DMK31 camera and the Lunt solar wedge with Baader solar continuum filter.
Friday, 15 August 2014
I didn't realise at the time I was recording these frames that I was capturing a filament lifting off, but in CaK wavelengths. All I was doing was shooting consecutive images and then was going to pick out the best for post processing. However in this sequence which consists of 10 frames which spans just under 10 minutes real time, it is quite easy to see the filament to the right of the active region in the process of lifting off. Taken with the 40mm at 925mm focal length with the DMk31 camera.
None of todays prominences were particularly large, but they were visible around the limb of the sun, as was unusually a filament; this is just to the right of AR12144 and is seen as a small thin arc. Unknown to me at the time it was in the process of lifting off the suns surface. The image was taken with the 40mm scope at 700mm focal length with the homebrew CaK filter and DMK31 camera.
The seeing conditions were slightly better for this image, resulting in finer detail being visible. The 2 new active regions seem to have plenty of life about them, with numerous small spots and a decent amount of plage indicating there are good magnetic fields present. There are some nice prominences visible on the limb too. Taken with the 40mm scope at 925mm focal length with the homebrew CaK filter and the DMK31 camera.
The seeing conditions were far from ideal when I shot this image inbetween the clouds late on friday afternoon, but there are still some nice proms visible on the limb with this rather uneventful active region. Taken with the 40mm at 925mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
The seeing conditions were pretty good when i took this image on friday lunchtime and it gives a nice overview of the face of our star. The 3 small main active regions are small but they are crackling away with minor B and C class rumbling. The proms and filaments looked very delicate today. Taken with the DS40 at 700mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
Surely there can't be many more days left for this decaying active region? I'm sure it won't survive rotating around the sun so that we see it again in just over 2 weeks time. Taken with the DS40 at 925mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
After thursdays weather finally did clear the sky remained very hazy, with high cloud floating around ,making the normally blue sky very milky; however despite the view I was getting through the camera on the laptop screen looking a little lacking in contrast and washed out, the final image was not too bad, with a decent amount of fine detail. This shot was taken with the DS40 at 700mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
I like the delicate prominences in this image on the limb, and how angry the active regions look, inparticular ar12141 with it arching plasma erupting from its core. Hopefully in the days ahead they will produce plenty of solar fireworks for us all to look at. Taken with the DS40 at 700mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
The sun is incredibly quiet on it's western limb as a number of active regions slip slowly towards it before rotating out of view, still all these filaments should turn into nice prominences as they rotate over the edge. This image was taken with the DS40 at 700mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
New active region AR12141 (closest to the limb) and it's counterpart AR12139 (mid image) were both very bright in CaK wavelengths with lots of bright plage. A peppering of small spots in both active regions suggests they may well be a bit more active than AR12135 currently departing on the western limb. The image was taken with the 40mm scope at 925mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
AR12135 has been a bit of a damp squib for the time of its whole transit across the face of the sun, never doing very much at all, infact it has struck me over the last 2 weeks how little plage has been associated with this active region, which is something quite unusual to me. The image was taken with the 40mm scope at 925mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
Conditions were a little hazy on thursday afternoon which always softens the image up a bit at CaK wavelengths, but still got a nice view of our star even if the proms are a little subdued. Taken with the 40mm scope at 700mm focal length with the DMK31.
Wednesday, 13 August 2014
When it formed a week or so ago, AR12135 did so with seemingly such ferocity that it looked like it would put on a good performance as it transited the surface of the sun. However it was always a decaying active region with only one large spot and very little plage activity, nothing much has changed now it is near the suns eastern limb. Hopefully it will reveal a little more depth and structure to it as we view from a much more oblique angle in the days ahead. This image was taken with the DS40 at 800mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
Frustrated by continual passing clouds I decided to just image regardless this afternoon. While this shot lacks the usual sharpness and contrast that I like it does show AR12139 undergoing a small B class flare. Taken with the DS40 at 800mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
Most definitely a day of cloud dodging today, there are lots of clouds and not many gaps, and to this point have only managed a full disk. Not much in the way of proms at all today, but this disk itself is looking nice. Taken with the DS40 at 700mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
The seeing conditions were far from great when I took this image early on monday morning, but atleast the sun was out briefly, for a bit! The disk is starting to look quiet again compared to how it has been lately. Taken with the 40mm at 700mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
Sunday, 10 August 2014
Despite it emerging only a few days ago, and containing 2 large sunspots, AR12135 is already starting to decay and shows no signs of an up tick in activity. There is a distinct lack of plage around it as can be seen in this image, compared to the amount of plage that there was around some of the active regions in the last week or so, a shame really! This image was taken with the 40mm scope at 925mm focal length with the DMK31 camera and the homebrew CaK filter.
All the activity that has been dominating the Earth ward face of our sun for the last week is now marching ever closer to passing over the western limb. This image was taken with the 40mm scope at 925mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
The sky transparency was great first thing on saturday morning, skies were about as blue as they get in the UK with no haze or high cloud at all. This has the result of making the calcium images that bit more contrasty, which is always a good thing! I would love to be able to take some images with the scope from the top of a 3000m+ mountain peak. This shot was with the 40mm scope at 700mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
Saturday, 9 August 2014
AR12135 has a pair of spots both bigger than Earth, but has to be said at the moment is very quiet as far as active regions go, with very little plage surrounding it. Hopefully as it rotates across the face of the sun in the next 10 days activity will pick up a little and will produce a few fireworks. Taken with the DS40 at 925mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
A very quick rough and ready full disk from very first thing this morning. I must have still been a little bleary eyed as both the focus and tuning is not as sharp as I like, but presented at this scale it works and gives an overview of what was going on. Taken with the DS40 at 700mm fl with the DMK31 camera.
Friday, 8 August 2014
When I observed the sun early on thursday morning, I could see it was crackling away in CaK wavelengths, so I decided to use the Hutech Solar Guider and autorun function in firecapture and go for an animation. I only managed 10 minutes worth before as usual in rolled the clouds, but when I looked back at the data was pleasantly surprised to the big sunspot associated with AR12132 showing a plasma eruption coming from the edge of a circular zone that surrounds the umbra of the spot. The event was very transient and only lasted a couple of minutes and looking on the GOES Xray flux it barely registered as a C1 flare event, still was fun to see none the less. Taken with the 40mm scope at 925mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
New active region AR12135 emerged only some 14 hours before this picture was taken, but already has sunspots that are considerably larger than Earth. There is not a huge amount of plage associated with this active region at the moment but this could well change in the days ahead. This image was taken with the 40mm scope at 925mm focal length using the DMK31 camera.
This double stacked view of a family of active regions slowly approaching the suns western limb has a real sense of 3D to it with the large filaments seemingly arching above the suns disk. It was taken with the DS40 at 925mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
Activity levels on the suns disk are dropping off a bit compared to what we had a week ago, however there are still plenty of interesting features but none of these have magnetic fields suitable for producing solar flares. Image taken with the DS40 at 700mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
I only managed to capture 30 frames, or roughly 5 minutes real time worth of data for this timelapse before the clouds rolled back in and hid things from me, but this shows just how turbulent and active our star actually is. It was by far the brightest thing on our star as this new sunspot emerged into view, where only a few hours earlier there was nothing. The shot has some hazy frames as high cloud and haze was interfering, but it doesn't detract too much. This was taken with the 100mm PST mod with 2x barlow to give 2000mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
For some time now I have had my suspicions that the performance of my PST mod was being limited by the etalon not being truly collimated to the optical axis of the donor OTA, despite upgrading the focuser on the Tal100R to a nice Moonlite unit, when then is another focuser hanging off the back of this it does incur some flexure in the system. Not even noticeable if you were using the scope as intended, but in solar astronomy where the slightest tilt of an etalon affects it's performance this is crucial. I was getting some banding previously on images with this setup, which is usually a sign the etalon was being tilted too much (sag due to flexure), so I decided a radical approach was needed. I completely ditched the second focuser and just used extension tubes to get the camera chip the required 200mm behind the refocusing lens in the etalon assembly. As soon as I did this I could see a marked improvement in terms of an increase in detail and contrast, without the adverse effects of banding. By doing this has reduced the loading on the Moonlite on the Tal by some 80%. Now the next job is to work out the optimal rotational clocking of the etalon with the OTA, and then the same for the blocking filter with respect to the etalon. When all this is done it will be index marked to ensure quick repeatability.
Ever the optimist for bagging an animation of a decent sized flare going off, I trained the 100mm PST mod on ar12132, and using the autorun feature in firecapture ran off a roughly 8 minute timelapse exposure of it. Sadly, there was no flaring or much else happening, but it does show nicely the movement of plasma in and around this small part of our star.
After getting an overview of wednesdays sun with the little 40mm scope, I decided to use the 100mm PST mod to get in a little closer on some of the features. Here is a close up shot of ar12134, and while looks quite turbulent in this image is unlikely to throw off any flares in the days ahead.
A closeup of the suns eastern limb where the new sunspot could be seen forming, throwing of surging jets of plasma into space. There were some very high velocities involved here as tuning the scopes etalon which shows a doppler shifted view of the sun showed quite a change of appearance of this little region. Taken again with the DS40 at 925mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
This double stacked view of all the activity on the suns western limb almost gives a 3D appearance with all the filaments and proms seemingly projecting outward off the disk. The image is a little soft as I was pushing then focal length of the little 40mm scope here to 925mm, rather oversampled for the DMK31 camera! Still, presented at this scale the image works quite well!