Saturday, 26 April 2014
It was a difficult day for imaging today with endless sunshine and showers, with the emphasis on showers. The imaging windows were short at the best of times, so I decided to do a mosaic of a nice strip of activity in the solar southern hemisphere that was approaching the western limb. There was lots to see here! This image was taken with the 100mm PST mod at 2000mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
There was lots to see on our star in Ha wavelengths today despite a lack of spots visible on white light. There seems to be lots of filaments held aloft above the suns disk today by magnetic fields. In addition there was a fine selection of proms visible too. This image was taken with the coronado DS40 at f16 with the DMK31 camera to make a four pane mosaic that was assembled in Adobe photoshop.
It took some time today to get the frames I needed for the full disk at CaK wavelengths, showers throughout the day were followed by some very short gaps, but in the end got the shots I wanted. The proms were nicely visible in CaK wavelengths today as were the hints of several filaments. This image was taken with the 40mm ota at f20 with the DMK31 camera and the homebrew CaK filter.
Good grief! Where have all the sunspots gone? Less than a week ago the disk was full of spots, they were all over the place. Now it is looking somewhat quieter in comparison. This shot was taken with the 40mm OTA at f16 with the DMK31 camera, a ND3 filter and a Baader solar continuum filter. Let's hope solar activity peps up again...
Friday, 25 April 2014
There is oodles of detail in the closeup shot of relatively dormant active region 12042 seen in this shot taken with the homebrew CaK filter and the 80mm scope running at 2000mm focal length. I would love to have perfect seeing and be able to double or even treble the focal length as i'm certain the closer in you look at CaK the more detail that is recorded. I'm really pleased with the work i've been able to do on my CaK filter over the easter fortnight; after much changing of the order and spacings of the filter elements I now have a setup where the reflection / ghost images are not consequential or significance in the final image. I have also learned that in it's native state the PST CaK 'magic' filter is actually tuned slightly higher than 393.37nm so that when it is used in an f10 light cone the centre bandpass is blue shifted to exactly CaK (393.37nm) wavelengths. I knew that in a light cone of less than f10 that the resultant image was washed out in a way the same as I got when tilting the filter elements to try and throw the reflections, and that by tilting the filter results in a blue shift of the bandpass wavelength. However I was really surprised when I ran the filter setup in a 50mm f20 native light cone and the resultant image I got was also washed out and lacking in both contrast and detail. This led me to the conclusion this was a result of the filters bandpass wavelength being red shifted as it was operating in a shallower light cone than it was designed for. What is for certain is that I will be using the filter setup in a f10 light cone whereever possible as this gives the most contrasty and detailed results by far. The 80mm running at a native f12.5 before any barlowing is used seems to escape any significant or noticeable red shifting as the closeup images from the past couple of days show. All my full disks though I will be taken using the 40mm at f10, with 2x barlow, as I have also seen that the 0.5x reducer at the short wavelengths of CaK introduced contrast robbing spherical aberration. All of the disks I have taken so far have shown to be far better with the 40mm f10 and 2x barlow than the 80mm f12.5 and 0.5x reducer; it would be interesting to see the result of using the 80mm at f12.5 to get a full disk, but this would need the best part of 16 frames, and the chances of the seeing holding out for all of them is probably only something that would happen a couple of times a year. For every large aperture CaK image like above and those below, there are probably 10 discarded for each good result. Maybe it is time for a camera with a larger chip? Hmmmm...
I was sorting through some of the avis from thursdays imaging run and found a couple more images that have come out quite well. In this shot taken with the 80mm at 2000mm focal length there are a whole host of spicules on the solar limb visible, and around the active regions the bright footprints of Ellerman bombs, in addition the spot that is closest to the solar limb can be seen to have a small jet of plasma bursting from it.
Thursday, 24 April 2014
When the seeing allows, to me, CaK shots taken closeup have a view that almost reminds me of cauliflower florets. The suns surface at this wavelength is turbulent and bubbling with magnetic froth. This shot was taken with the 100mm at f16 with the DMk31 camera and the homebrew Cak filter used in conjunction with a Lunt solar wedge.
The very last of the active regions that a week ago were crackling in solar flares are very close to passing over the limb today. They still have activity as can be seen by the surge proms that adjourn the solar limb. This shot was taken with the 100mm at f16 with the DMK31 camera.
Tuesday, 22 April 2014
I like all the subtle details that are visible in this pair of active regions that have come over the suns eastern limb in the last couple of days. This image looks even better full size when you click on it! Taken with the 100mm PST mod at 2000mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
As todays imaging session was drawing to a close there was high cloud and haze drawing in across the sky, I decided to try and have a go at an animation of one of todays large prominences. Typically it was fairly quiet and didn't do much in this 20 minute animation but there is some movement of the plasma held aloft by magnetic fields. Photoshop struggled to align the frames for the animation, but did so in the end, and so I decided to upload it here. This was taken with the 100mm PST mod at 2000mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
We finally say goodbye to the trio of active regions that have been putting on a flaring extravaganza for the last week. Not sure why blogger feels the need to 'modify' the colour of images that I upload lately - the bright orange limb to the solar image above is not how I would choose to colour my pics. This was taken with the 100mm PST mod at 2000mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
I tried my latest configuration of my CaK filter today, rearranging the order and spacing of the optical elements with a view of minimising any ghosting and reflections; while this is not banished it is a lot better than it was previously, maybe something I can live with now. In this shot taken with the 40mm scope at f20 with the DMK31 camera, there were huge proms visible today, and these could also just be seen in CaK wavelengths. A good result today!
More really fine details are visible in this image of relatively quiet active region AR12032, if you look carefully below the penumbra of the main spot you will see several bright arches of plasma looping from the solar surface. This is something I have not seen in CaK wavelengths before. This shot was taken with the 80mm scope at f20 with the DMK31 camera.
Excellent seeing conditions for this image gave a great view of new active region AR12045 taken with the 80mm scope at f20 with the DMK31 camera. Look carefully and there are several darker thin arched loops of plasma held aloft by solar magnetic fields.
Monday, 21 April 2014
The seeing made this image a little softer than I prefer, but it shows a nice view of the family of active regions that over the last week has been crackling away with flares. This image was taken with the 80mm @ f20 with the DMK31 camera.
Posted by Mark Townley at Monday, April 21, 2014
Sunday, 20 April 2014
The weather forecast for sunday was to go rapidly downhill and so I decided to get up just after sunrise and try to beat the incoming rain. It wasn't until a few hours after sunrise that there was a clear spell that was worth getting the scope out for, but i'm glad I persevered as the sun was putting on a great show this easter sunday, almost overnight the proms have appeared all round the solar limb. This image was taken with the coronado DS40 at f10 and the DMK31 camera. After I took these images the rest of the day settled with gale force winds and rain, hopefully overnight it will all blow over and Easter Monday will give me some chances to get some more observations in.
All the solar activity of the last week we've been treated to is heading towards the suns western limb now, will there be more to follow? Only time will tell! I tried some modifications on the filter before using it this morning to try and throw some of the contrast dropping ghosts / reflections that i've been working to shift - difficult to say how effective this has been as skies were very hazy, however it is fairly easy to see the tenuous hints of the filaments that are normally visible in Ha, so, maybe, i'm going in the right direction. This images was taken with the 40mm at f10 with the DMK31 camera.
Saturday, 19 April 2014
I really are liking the level of detail my homebrew CaK filter is pulling out in ultra violet wavelengths, the filaments are borderline visibility as are the proms. I still have a reflection issue that i'm trying to deal with - i've improved it, but not solved it yet - maybe a UV polariser? I'm going to try the filter elements in a different order, but keep the spacing of the elements - as this seems to work. Certainly on the parts of the disk where the ghost is not superimposed there is more detail visible, giving this part of the filter an apparently tighter bandwidth. If I can sort this out it really should bring the best out of this filter setup! Today's image was taken with the 40mm at f20, with the DMK31 camera.
I decided to crack out the 80mm scope at f25 today to get this mosaic shot, on reflection such a long focal length was probably a bit optimistic and should have been sensible and backed off to half that, however I shot away regardless! A couple of the panes that make up this image are a bit ropey because of the soft seeing, but hey ho! I particularly like the jet of plasma that is being discharged from the sunspot right on the solar limb.
Friday, 18 April 2014
I was lucky enough to be able to capture todays M class flare using my homebrew CaK filter and the 40mm scope at f20 with the DMK31 camera. I've been doing alot of work with this filter over the past week to try and increase and improve on the already good contrast, to shift ghost reflections etc, this is working well as the image above shows, but, as with everything can always be improved further, and so still have a few more ideas to test out.
The star of the show today was the M7 flare that erupted on our star earlier in the afternoon. For days all the signs have been there that a big flare was on the cards, but it held off until today. I tried something different and turned the exposure right down to try and capture some of the flares structure. This worked in a fashion, but the seeing conditions were so poor much of the finer detail is hidden away by the atmospheric smearing. The animation was cut short by the passing clouds, but I did manage to get 10 minutes worth of exposure. Taken with the 100mm PST mod at 2000mm focal length with the DMK31 camera.
I turned the 100mm PST mod towards this active region earlier this morning and ran an timelapse for 10 minutes to see what was going on; at that time no real flaring, but the flow of plasma around the active region is never the less interesting. At this scale there is always something interesting happening on our star.
A lovely shot of this new active region that is sporting a light bridge across its umbra indicating activity is falling in it, still it is still very photogenic. Taken with the 100mm pst mod at 2000mm focal length with the DMk31 camera.
This limb shot shows active region Ar12038, filaments, filaproms, prominences, surges and a host of other features. The sun just does not seem to be dull at the moment! This image was taken with the 100mm PST mod at f20 with the DMK31 camera.
Another sunny day here in Brierley Hills - a week a sunny weather now, unheard of! The sun has been putting on a great show too, can't remember the last time there were so many spots for so long. This shot was taken with the 80mm at f8.75 with the Lunt solar wedge, Beloptik Tri Band ERF, Baader Continuum filter and DMK31 camera.
Thursday, 17 April 2014
The sun has been crackling away with small scale flare activity now for several days, so on wednesday decided I would see if I could record something happening. This is easier said than done as the flare activity is pretty much unpredictable, and the only real way of catching it is to just sit, wait and watch, and when flaring does start hit record on the camera. This is what happened in recording this image. It was taken using the 80mm beloptik tri-band equipped scope with my homebrew CaK filter at f12.5 with the DMK31 camera. There is so much going on in this image apart from the obvious flaring, supergranulation cells rise and fall, and there are various subtle out flowings of plasma from the different active regions. The whole surface of the sun appears to be sizzling away at these short wavelengths. Hopefully in the coming days as these flare producing active regions near the limb they will still be putting on a spectacle for me to record.
I was exploring a bit with some of the spacings of the different optical elements of my homebrew CaK filter on wednesday with some positive results; increasing the spacing has the effect of throwing the ghost images more out of focus which makes them less noticeable in the original image. I hope to be able to try and take this idea a bit further over the coming days as believe this idea has got a bit of potential. Despite the poor seeing conditions associated with living in the urban heat island that is the West Midlands, the little 40mm scope running at f20 had no problem with the boiling atmosphere and delivered a cracking result showing what our star looks like at 393nm wavelength in the ultra violet.
I sat waiting pretty much all day hoping our star was going to throw off a large M class or even X class flare so I could record it as an animation, alas it never did. I did manage this animation of a long protracted C1 class flare, with a small C2 burst. This was taken using the 100mm PST mod at f20 with the DMK31 camera, taking 4 avis a minute to try and avoid as much temporal distortion as possible, the animation is 108 frames and spans 27 minutes real time in the life of our star. Now I know this method works, i'm looking forward to capturing more powerful flares in the future, hopefully!
Absolutely loads to see on wednesdays full disk, it was absolutely covered in features and activity of all types. I also changed the rusted ITF filter in my BF15 for one from Maier Photonics in the states, this has made a real difference, the image is much more even in terms of contrast, and is also letting more light through to the camera. Time to get a replacement ITF for my BF10 also me thinks! This shot was taken with the DS40 at f20 with the DMK31 camera.
This is the trio of active regions that has been doing all this flaring over the last couple of days, it's a really turbulent area on the sun. This is a 6 pane mosaic I took using the 100mm PST mod at 2000mm focal length with the DMK31 camera. I'm really pleased with this image to the point it has become my new wallpaper on my laptop. May even get a print done of it yet...
I wish i'd taken an animation of this region of the sun - it flared and surged with activity all day long, and on reflection would have made a great movie - oh well! Taken with the 100mm PST mod at 2000mm focal length with the DMK31.
Tuesday, 15 April 2014
It wasn't until late in the afternoon when the seeing conditions and passing fluffy clouds both died down enough for me to have a go at an animation of some of the regions that had been flaring away all day. There was passing high clouds and haze which have affected the overall transparency of this animation, but on the whole this shows well just how turbulent this part of the sun was. I'm averaging about 3 frames a minute in this animation that covers 10 minutes in the life of our star, this is much better temporally than the 3 frames every 2 minutes I have done, but think on my next animation may drop the cadence still further to 4 frames a minute - some of this plasma is flowing around very quickly! This was taken with the 100mm PST mod at 2000mm focal length with the DMk31 camera.
I really struggled with the poor seeing conditions today, and despite firing off dozens of shots with the 100mm PST mod these are the only ones that properly came out. The whole area around all these active regions was pulsing with C-class flares, it was as if there was a huge bulge of plasma just below the surface of the sun trying to explosively get out.