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.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Ha Full Disk 8th August

When says the sun is blank they need to look in Hydrogen Alpha wavelengths, there is plenty to see here; ex-active regions, plage, filaments and prominences.  The sun is rarely quiet in Ha!  Taken with a pair of double stacked 50mm Lunt etalons, a Coronado BF15 on a 60mm f6 scope with the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

CaK Full Disk - 8th August

For whatever reason I seem to have been neglecting calcium wavelengths lately, and often as the case here when the sun is blank in whitelight there is still detail to see in CaK, here regions of plage associated with active regions from a couple of rotations ago are still clearly visible.  Taken with the 40mm scope and homebrew CaK filter with the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

Closing in on Decayed Active Regions - 8th August

Transparency was great this morning alas the seeing had other ideas, and many gigabytes of data were shot in order to get one half decent image.  This active region that first showed itself in June has all but gone now, but there is still a small area of crackling plage, the dark area is not a sunspot but a small surging filament, it was gone minutes later.  Taken with the Airylab HaT with 0.7x reducer and the Daystar Quark and the IMX 249 camera to get this image.

Monday, 6 August 2018

Ha Full Disk - 6th August

The sun is free of spots at the moment but it is not free from activity, a pair of decaying active regions sit mid disk on the solar equator and a filament sits at more northerly latitudes.  There was also a number of small prominences.  This image was taken with the DS50 and PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

AR12717 With The Airylab HaT and Daystar Quark - 5th August

The seeing was far from perfect this morning with passing clouds, however using the Airlylab SSM along with the seeing plugin in Firecapture meant I was able to record only the best ones.  The Airylab HaT and 0.7x reducer was used with the Daystar Quark and PGR IMX249 camera.  This small active region seems to have diminished in activity since yesterday.

Granulation With the Airylab HaT and Daystar Sodium Quark - 5th August

The seeing was pretty rough when this image was taken and was a struggle to get enough decent frames to do something with.  The Airylab HaT, with 0.7x reducer was used along with the Daystar Sodium Quark and PGR IMX249 to give a focal length about 6m.  Just plain old granulation mid disk!

Saturday, 4 August 2018

AR12717 With The Airylab HaT and Daystar Quark - 4th August

    Trying something a bit different this morning, I bought a Celestron 0.7x Edge HD reducer to bring the focal ratio back down to f7, something that i've found with my other scopes to offer a sweet spot with the Daystar Quark.  Immediately both visually and also on the laptop screen that contrast was favourable.  The seeing was also not too bad so I decided to rattle off some frames of AR12717.  Overall i'm pleased with this new configuration and look forward to trialling it further when sky conditions are better.  Taken with a PGR IMX249 camera.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

AR12717 in Sodium Light

This animation spanning ten minutes shows the rise and fall of solar granules, while the small spot associated with this new active region remains relatively static.  There also appears to be a number of small pores in this active region.  Taken with the ED80, Daystar Sodium Quark and the PGR IMX249 camera.

Ha Full Disk 2nd August

You have to look carefully at the moment as we head towards solar minimum for details on the sun, but today we have a newly designated active region, AR12717.  This has a small single spot with some signs of pores around it.  It is Quite bright in Ha light.  Also visible is a small emerging flux region with signs of the magnetised plasma churning around.  The rest of the disk is essentially blank.  Taken with the double stacked Lunt50 etalons, BF15, PGR IMX249 camera.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

New Sunspot - 1st August

This as yet undesignated active region appears to be having a bit of a surge in activity and has developed a small single sunspot.  Whether this will develop any more is anyones guess.  This was taken with the Skywatcher ED80, Beloptik Tri-band ERF, 2.5x barlow, homebrew CaK filter and the PGR IMX249 camera.

Departing Prominences - 31st July

Over the past week or so a region of filaments has slowly marched towards the suns limb, when they reached they put on a great display of prominences for a couple of days too before heading over the solar limb.  This shot was taken with the DS50 and PGR Ch3 camera.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Small Region of Plage Rounds The Limb - 31st July

Whilst still the sun is technically spotless, and as such this patch of plage visible in both Ha and CaK wavelengths shows signs of very small scale activity.  It is likely the remnants of previous active regions from last month completing another rotation, and, as such is more likely to diminish further in activity rather than increase.  This shot was taken with the Daystar Quark, Skywatcher ED80 and the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

Monday, 30 July 2018

A Good Day For Prominences, A Bad Day For Clouds - 30th July

The last day of June has brought some of the nicest prominences for a while following filaments that passed over the limb days ago. Even through the cloud they looked great, sadly the cloud was not going to break all day, so the animation above represents a typical view.  Taken with a pair of Lunt 50 etalons, Coronado BF15 and a PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

CaK Closeup 28th July

Using the skywatcher ED80 and 2.5x barlow lens with the PGR Chameleon 3 camera to get a little closer on this region of decaying plage before it heads over the suns limb.  It's unlikely to make a successful rotation after this.

CaK Overview - 28th July

The sun is quiet even in CaK light, with a small patch of plage about to pass over the western limb.  Taken with the ED80, Beloptik tri-band ERF, homebrew CaK filter and the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

Departing Filaments - 28th July

A double stacked setup is a great way to improve contrast when viewing in Hydrogen Alpha light, as the bandpass of the filter has steeper sides and lets through less continuum leakage, which has the effect of making the contrast of features greater.  These filaments show up really well and reflect where on previous rotations there were active regions.  Once these clouds of plasma have gone in the next day the sun will be completely blank.  Taken with the Daystar Quark on the 60mm f6 refractor double stacked with a Lunt 50 etalon.  Camera was the PGR Ch3.

Ha Full Disk - 28th July

The sun is very quiet at the moment, just a few filaments associated with long dead active regions at the boundaries of opposite magnetic fields.  There were a few small prominences visible too.  The image was taken with a pair of 50mm Lunt etalons on the Tecnosky 60mm f6 scope along with a Coronado BF15 and the PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

Sometimes the Seeing Just Isn't Up to it... 27th July

I did some more experimenting with the solar seeing monitor with the firecapture plugin on Friday.  However despite this clever and powerful piece of software if the seeing is just not there then it simply isn't possible to pull good data from it.  The graph below shows this well; from 10am it was cloudy until about 10.25am, and the yellow line on the graph wiggling away shows the transparency was variable with the high cloud and haze passing through.  The seeing was variable though jumping up and down in the unstable air and wasn't really suitable for the larger apertures as this soft image of granulation taken with the the Daystar Sodium Quark and Airylab HaT shows.  Camera was the PGR IMX249.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Solar Granulation with the Daystar Sodium Quark and Airylab HaT - 26th July

A hazy start to the day, but I was keen to see how my solar seeing monitor would behave in Firecapture using a plugin to get the software to record frames only when the seeing is below a certain value.  I initially very much like this option as the whole process is pretty much automated and judging by the quality graphs in AS3 it is indeed recording the moments of better seeing.  Whilst not perfect it is easy to see the solar granulation cells in this image.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Ha Full Disk - 25th July

Hazy skies and a quiet sun other than a filament associated with ex-active region.  Taken with a pair of double stacked Lunt 50 etalons, BF15 blocker and PGR Chameleon 3 camera on a Technosky 60mm f6 scope.

Monday, 23 July 2018

CaK Full Disk 23rd July

The sun is all but blank at the moment, with the only activity a patch of plage mid disk; the decayed remnants of AR12715 which was a small spot group this time in June.  Taken with the 40mm scope, homebrew CaK filter and the PGR Chameleon3 camera.

Ha Full Disk 23rd July

The sun and it's activity is quiet as we head closer to solar minimum, with a collection of filaments mid disk producing a smiley face emoji of sorts.  The filament that makes up the nose is all that now remains of AR12715 which was a small group of spots this time in June.  Taken with a pair of double stacked 50mm Lunt etalons on the Tecnosky ED60 f6 scope and a PGR Chameleon 3 camera.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Ha Full Disk - 15th July

Other than the bright plage that forms the remains of ar12713 that we saw on a previous rotation the sun is essentially blank.  Possibly the old remains of ar12715 has just rounded the eastern limb and shows itself as an area of turbulent plasma split with a hair line filament at the demarcation between the bipolar fields.  There are also some small filament towards the solar poles again which seems to have been a feature of the sun this summer.  Taken with the Lunt50 etalon, Daystar Quark and IMX249 chipped camera.

Second Rotation for Ex Active Region - AR12713 - 15th July

Currently spotless and un-named as an active region, this bipolar patch of plage on the suns disk is the remains of active region which was heading towards the western limb of the sun on the 21st June.  Then it had a number of sunspots and dark filaments associated with it, whereas now it is much quieter and calmer.  It may well see a third rotation, but by then is likely nothing but a small patch of plage visible in Calcium wavelengths.  Taken with a Lunt50 etalon, Daystar Quark and an IMX249 chipped PGR camera.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

A Blank Sun? 14th July

Spaceweather says the sun is blank, there are no sunspots.  This is only partly true; it is blank in white light but in Hydrogen Alpha light there is a large active region mid disk, however there are no sunspots.  Why is this?  Well sunspots only form when the magnetic field strength is greater than 1500 gauss.  You can see in the image there are quite clear magnetic field lines in the plasma from a bipolar magnetic field with bright plage where the sunspots should be.  This is what we would expect given we are in a declining phase of the solar cycle, and scientists have been saying for some time the average magnetic field strength of the sun is also in decline.  Maybe these 'white sunspots' will be more common in the next solar cycle which is forecast to be less active than the current one.  Taken with the double stacked 50mm setup with a IMX249 chipped PGR camera.

Active Region and Prom - 14th July

A spotless active region shines brightly mid disk in this image taken with the 50mm double stack setup.  There was also a variety of nice small proms too.  The double stack cuts down continuum leakage and increases contrast making filaments and field lines pop out.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Ha Full Disk 11th July

A virtually blank disk on wednesday, there has been the relics of an old active region that has rounded the sun on the eastern limb, and despite a small flare a day or so before it came into view there are no sunspots visible, just a region of turbulent plage.  There were a few small prominences though which were interesting to look at.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Intergranular Regions With the Daystar Sodium Quark and the Airylab HaT - 7th July

Inverting a conventional image taken with the Daystar Sodium Quark and the Airylab HaT reveals a little seen view of the sun; inter-granular regions, as the name suggests is the area between the solar granulation.  The view with a sodium Quark has much more contrast and depth than the traditional white-light view, and when inverted the region in-between the granules really pops out.  Camera used was the IMX249 chipped PGR.