Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Ha Full Disk 30th December 2019

This is my last solar image of the decade; clear skies on monday meant I was able to make the most of the small gaps in the trees to get a chance of seeing the sun.  Cycle 25 active region AR12753 is still visible as a patch of bright plage, but all sunspots have now receded.  A few small prominences and few ephemeral bright points are the only other things visible but as we move into 2020 activity is set to rise.  This image was taken with the Lunt50 etalon on the ED60 f6 scope, double stacked with a Daystar Quark, a Baader solar telecompressor was used along with the PGR camera.

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Christmas 2019 - When Solar Cycle 25 Woke Up

The information from Solen says it all; on Christmas day I was able to observe the 2 active regions visually using a Daystar Quark where they were easily visible.  The chart above shows the magnetic signatures of cycle 25 are getting more prevalent.  Poor weather is forecast for me for the rest of the year so unlikely I will get to image or view until 2020, either way next year should be an exciting time for all things solar!

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Christmas Sunspots From Cycle 25 - 24th December

Christmas Eve has brought not just one sunspot grouping from cycle 25, but two! We know this from their reversed polarity compared to cycle 24 spots.  There have been a number of small single spots and pores earlier this year, but so far this is the most cycle 25 activity we have seen.  Fingers crossed this is setting up 2020 as being a good year for solar astronomy as more features become visible.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Solar Cycle 25 Forecast Update

published: Monday, December 09, 2019 22:30 UTC

The NOAA/NASA co-chaired, international panel to forecast Solar Cycle 25 released their latest forecast for Solar Cycle 25. The forecast consensus: a peak in July, 2025 (+/- 8 months), with a smoothed sunspot number (SSN) of 115. The panel agreed that Cycle 25 will be average in intensity and similar to Cycle 24.

Additionally, the panel concurred that solar minimum between Cycles 24 and 25 will occur in April, 2020 (+/- 6 months). If the solar minimum prediction is correct, this would make Solar Cycle 24 the 7th longest on record (11.4 years).

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Mercury Transit - 11th November

Monday was the transit of Mercury over the face of the sun, sadly I was at work at the time and observing it really wasn't an option unfortunately.  Fortunately these days there are so many live sources of our star online that at various points I was able to get a virtual view of the transit.  Here is the AIA1700 image from the Solar Dynamics Observatory I grabbed that shows Mercury as the small black disk nearly dead centre on the sun.  The next doesn't occur until 2032, maybe I will be fortunate enough to have retired by then and will be able to observe it.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Iceland Sunrise - 27th October

The light at sunrise was simply amazing this morning here in Iceland!  Twilight lasts for 2 hours at this latitude this time of the year, and so it was a pleasure to watch the changing hues over time!

Iceland Sunset Aurora - 26th October

Following 2 days of auroral storms, the solar wind was still flowing in excess of 600km/s, which is pretty fast.  As a result as soon as it started to go dark there were aurora visible here in Iceland.  This animation spans 30 minutes from sunset and was taken with a Canon 350D, Sigma 10mm f4 lens, 20s exposure at iso 800.  The aurora were visible for the whole of the night and were lovely to see again!

Monday, 21 October 2019

CaK Full Disk 19th October

The seeing conditions weren't great when I imaged my full disk in Ha, but the passing of a weather front meant the air was very transparent and so I had some hope for calcium imaging.  I used the ED80 stopped down to 60mm along with the homebrew CaK filter.  Looking at the enlarged image it is possible to see the spicule ring around the edge of the sun, along with faint prominences.  Looking at the centre of the disk it is possible to see the inverse granulation that characterises the view in Calcium light.

Ha Full Disk 19th October

Poor weather has meant it's seemed like an age since I was able to do any solar observing, Saturday arrived and despite the sun being blank I decided to get the scopes out and observe.  The northern polar regions were the most interesting with a hedgerow like filament and bright points corresponding to polar faculae.  Taken with a Lunt50 etalon on the ED60 that was double stacked with a Daystar Quark.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

45 Minutes in the life of a Quiescent Prominence - 8th September

Lovely clear blue skies this morning, only a couple of degrees above zero at dawn, won't be long till we have a frost I think... The sun was completely blank, nothing to see apart from the glorious proms. So, with deep blue skies and no sign of cloud imminent I decided to go for an animation with the Coronado SM90ii, 2x Cemax barlow and the GH3 IMX174 camera. The movement is subtle, but there is a lot going on when you look closely...

Promtastic Sunday - 8th September

The suns disk is blank, really blank!  not much at all is happening, but today all the action was around the limb in the form of prominences.  There were lovely sets on both limbs in the northern hemisphere.  This image has an inverted disk with a limb composite, taken with the Coronado SM90ii and the PGR Grasshopper camera.

Monday, 26 August 2019

Calcium Full Disk 25th August

It seems to have been a while since I imaged in calcium wavelengths, so on Sunday afternoon I decided to go for a full disk with the skywatcher ED80 stopped down to 60mm, coronado 2x cemax barlow and the Grasshopper camera with the homebrew calcium filter.  It was interesting to see the polar faculae are noticeably larger in size than plage bright points mid disk.  The polar faculae in calcium match up very well position wise with these features in the 2 disks prior to this post.

Sodium Full Disk 25th August

I was going for the trio of full disks on Sunday so had to shoot a sodium disk with the Daystar Quark.  There is little to see but around the poles the polar faculae synonymous with solar minimum conditions were visible.  Taken with the Tecnosky 60mm f6 scope.

Ha Full Disk - 25th August

The sun at first sight appears blank again, however a number of small filaments can be seen on the disk; at the south pole the diffuse filaments represent the proms in the previous 2 posts that I did an animation of.  Mid disk a filament and brighter plage are the remnants of the active region that first appeared at Easter time, now with a coronal hole also associated this region is now on it's 4th rotation of our star.  In the northern hemisphere the filaments are associated with the magnetic fields due to sub surface cycle 25 jet stream activity, with a small emphemeral region at the 2 o'clock position being cycle 25.  At the north pole polar faculae can be seen shining through the chromosphere as bright points.  Throw in a few proms too and there is more than meets the eye.  Taken with a Lunt 50C etalon double stacked with a Daystar Quark, Baader solar telecompressor and a FLIR Grasshopper 3 camera.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Still Raining on the Sun - 24th August

Saturday gave me some free time and with blue skies I decided to try another animation of the active prom region that has been rounding the limb.  I got 140 frames covering 45 minutes real time to produce this animation.  I included an Earth scale just so you can see how small we are in the bigger picture of things that happen on our star.  Taken with the Coronado SM90, 1.6x barlow and Grasshopper IMX174 camera.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Descending Prominence Knots and Coronal Rain - 23rd August

Friday started grey and misty for me which was frustrating given the forecast was for blue skies, however by early afternoon all the low cloud burnt off to reveal really quite blue skies without the usual haze. I went out and set up and also pleasantly surprised the SSM was coming in with seeing values in the region of 2-3 arc seconds:
I knew this was too much to bother with the HaT so got the SM90ii out. With nothing of note on the disk worth pursuing, I went hunting for the big prom that was visible; Starting off with a 3x barlow it quickly became clear that this scale was going to be too much, so dropped down to the 2x, again too much (I was running files through AS3 on the fly), however dropping down to a magnimax barlow nosepiece giving me a image scale of ~1.6x straight away it was obvious on firecapture this scale to image at was working with the seeing. I decided to opt with the smaller image scale knowing I would get something I could work with rather than waste time (and hard drive space) chasing an elusive super close up that might or might not work out.

Using the Grasshopper with the IMX174 chip I went in automated mode, using the Hinode solar guider to keep the scope squarely on the prom and the SSM and plugin in FC to set a threshold so I was only recording the sharpest of frames. Despite the prom looking pretty quiescent on GONG I could tell from looking visually through the SM90 there was quite a bit of subtle activity with it so decided just to blitz it, and get as much data as my diminutive hard disk would allow. A few passing fluffy clouds interrupted what would have been a perfect run but these have little effect on the result. I managed just shy of 40 minutes of observation from 14.57 to 15.36. I decided to leave the less sharp images in the sequence as they keep the continuity of the movement that was visible, only deleting the cloud sections. I ended up with an animation of 120 frames spanning nearly 40 minutes, so a cadence of about 3 frames a minute.

The result pleasantly surprised me. I aligned in ImPPG with several alignment iterations as Photoshop just locked up every time. I know the image is inverted to the norm, but is looks strange raining the wrong way. It then got me looking around as to whether coronal rain is the right terminology for it, as, traditionally coronal rain is associated with post flare loops, and there was definitely no flaring with this! Turns out there are different categories of coronal rain with the rain in this type being called 'descending prominence knots'. The rain part refers to the condensation of cooler material - plasma on the sun as opposed to water on Earth, however in post flare loops the rain is guided and forms along the magnetic field lines, whereas in this situation the field lines in a prominence are flat (compared to looped) so the rain forms due to temperature differences (instability) in the corona. As the environment is 'viscous' they fall back towards the sun at less than terminal velocity. Given all frames are timestamped and we know image scale it would be quite possible to work out a velocity for these 'descending prominence knots' (or raindrops), i've not done this but theory suggests a few tens of kilometres a second. The science in all this is really very new, this paper https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1 ... /1/21/meta from 2014 is perhaps the most comprehensive I found, and heavy going in parts still gives useful information.

The STEREO image suggests a couple of brighter points about to round the limb at these low southern latitudes (remember my ani is vertically inverted), given there latitude this means they are cycle 25, and this is also contemporaneous with the latitude of the prom, so, definitely the area to keep an eye on this weekend.

Hope you like my cinema, just about to head out and see what I can get this morning.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Polar Faculae & Cycle 25 Jet Streams - 17th August

The sun may on the face of it be blank at the moment, but there are plenty of subtle signs visible of where we are in relation to solar cycles.  The image above in the top half of the image shows bright polar faculae,  these are magnetic areas on the sun, not strong enough to form sunspots or pores, but strong enough to be visible in a variety of wavelengths; in white light they are visible as white spots on the photosphere, but, higher up in the chromosphere in Ha wavelengths they appear as small bright jet like features shooting upwards.  They only form in the polar regions at solar minimum as the magnetic fields are stable at this time, during solar maximum the poles are under going a magnetic field reversal and so polar faculae are unable to form.

In the bottom half of the image we can see small, dark filaments; regions of plasma held aloft by magnetic fields, however these magnetic fields are in the jet stream regions where we expect to see the tell tale signs of cycle 25.  While these magnetic fields are still quite weak, only able to support filaments, over time their field strength in gauss will increase enough for them to start developing first of all pores and then sunspots, with developed umbra and penumbra.

Taken with the 90mm Coronado SolarmaxII telescope double stacked with a Daystar Quark to increase image contrast by reducing continuum leakage into the image.

Monday, 19 August 2019

Cycle 24 Equatorial Plage - 17th August

These small bright points are plage, the residual magnetism of cycle 24 on the suns equator.  These will slowly but surely become absent as cycle 24 magnetism is cancelled out and cycle 25 starts to become more prevalent at higher latitudes.  Taken with the 90mm Coronado SolarmaxII telescope double stacked with a Daystar Quark to increase contrast  by reducing continuum leakage.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Ha Full Disk 17th August

Been a while since i've had the time to observe what with one thing and another.  A quick peek at the sun as a whole shows we are still in the depths of solar minimum, one small prom and a few small filaments are about it.  However polar faculae are visible in both hemispheres.  Taken with a Lunt 50 etalon double stacked with a Daystar Quark.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Ha Full Disk - 7th August

The sun really is quiet - there's no prominences, no filaments, just a small flux region and a couple of brighter points of plasma around the solar equator, apart from that it's pretty representative of solar minimum conditions.  Taken with the Lunt 50 etalon, Tecnosky 60mm f6 scope, Daystar Quark, 0.7x solar telecompressor and the FLIR GH3 ICX814M camera.

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Sodium Full Disk 6th August

I remembered yesterday evening I can use the Na Quark for full disks, and ever the optimist and despite looking on the AIA1700 image first thing and seeing yesterdays pores had gone, I still had a go at a full disk, and you know what - the solar dynamics observatory was right, there were no pores or spots remaining. A blank sodium disk then - one day some spots I promise!

Ha Full Disk - 6th August

Up early as usual, we're in unsettled air with jet stream Atlantic weather blowing in, and experience suggests there's normally a brief window of clear skies just after dawn and just before the heat of the sun gets convection going and clouds bubbling up. This was indeed the case and only had enough time for a couple of full disks, first off things in Ha with my preferred setup of Lunt50 etalon, 60mm f6 scope, Daystar Quark, 0.7x solar telecompressor and FLIR GH3 ICX916M camera. Where we had the emerging flux region yesterday seems to have quietened right back down now, but is still quite bright compared to the background disk. A few brighter points in lower southern latitudes mark the tell tale sign of the cycle 25 jet stream, and a few very small proms and filaments are about it for today.

Monday, 5 August 2019

Emerging Flux Regions - 5th August

There were 2 small emerging flux regions visible today on out star.  At its height the EFR on the right also sported small pores where the flux tubes broke through the photosphere, in Ha and higher up in the chromosphere they manifest as darker and cooler regions of plasma that arc and follow the magnetic field lines.  Taken with the Coronado SM90ii double stacked with the Daystar Quark and the FLIR GH3 ICX916M camera.

Old Active Region Remnants - 5th August

If you look back on this website in the archives to April this year you will see we had some quite large active regions gracing the solar equator.  Now, several rotations later this region of turbulent plage is all that remains.  Will it be visible in 2 weeks time when the area rounds the limb again?  Who knows?  Taken with the Coronado SM90 double stacked with the Daystar Quark.

Northern Polar Regions 5th August

While there may appear at first glance that not much is going on in this image, the bright patches of polar faculae, normally associated as white light features of the photosphere, here they also shine through the chromosphere as bright points.  Polar faculae are more prominent during solar minimum.  Taken with the Coronado SM90 double stacked with the Daystar Quark.

Ha Full Disk - 5th August

Another one of those days when Spaceweather says the sun is blank; but it isn't.  Two emerging flux regions can be seen in equatorial regions not long after coming over the limb, also on the opposite limb the region of turbulent plage that marks where active regions were visible back much earlier in spring.  Taken with a Lunt 50 etalon double stacked with the Daystar Quark.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Sale of Solar Items!

Having a good clear out of some solar stuff i've not used for a while, so it's the solar summer sale.  Check out my listings on SolarChat 

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Ha Full Disk - 30th July

There be a storm coming in today! However was up early and out ready to beat the rapidly approaching bands of clouds. Only managed a full disk, Lunt50 etalon double stacked with the Quark, 0.7x telecompressor and the FLIR GH3 ICX916M camera.

There's lots happening on our star today! there are whole load of lovely proms, and with turbulent plage and filaments mid disk from the active regions we had back in April, also look carefully in the northern hemisphere mid latitudes, a feint but most definite line of filaments is there - this marks out the solar jet stream associated with where we will first see cycle 25 giving us activity. At the moment the field strength there is less than 1500 gauss (the limit accepted for spot formation) and so we see filaments being the dominant magnetic feature, but as the field strength gets more in the months ahead we should expect an increase in the magnitude of features associated.

CaK Closeup - 29th July

This image is a closeup of the region of plage that is visible in the full disk image in the post below.  Taken with the 100mm Tal100R refractor, homebrew CaK filter, Coronado 2x cemax barlow lens and FLIR GH3 IMX174 camera.  The Airylab Solar Seeing Monitor was used to get Firecapture to select only the sharpest subframes to be recorded.  I'm quite pleased with the result as is rare the seeing obliges like this for me.  It will be interesting to see how much of this plage is still visible in less than a months time when this region of our star makes a reappearance again.

CaK Full Disk 29th July

While there might appear to be not much happening in this full disk taken at Calcium wavelengths, it shows well the region of plage mid disk associated with final cycle 24 activity as a result of the active regions we had in this area in spring time earlier in the year.  The image was taken at 80mm f12.5 with the homebrew CaK filter and the FLIR GH3 ICX916M camera.

Sodium Full Disk 29th July

It occurred to me only recently, that as I was able to get a full disk using my Ha Quark, then the same would apply to my Na Quark.  This is a bit of a 'nothing shot' in so much as no features are visible, but it does serve a purpose that this wavelength of full disk is indeed possible, and certainly when cycle 25 kicks in should be alot more interesting.  Taken with the ED60/f6, Na Quark, Baader 0.7x solar telecompressor and the FLIR GH3 ICX916M camera.  This could also prove an interesting option for a Magnesium Quark in the future possibly?  Hmmm...

Filaments Mid Disk - 29th July

I took these shots of the filaments that are currently sat mid disk on the sun, these mark the position of the boundaries of coronal holes, that, also in turn mark the position of the boundaries of the magnetic fields associated with a region of the sun that spawned active region way back in the spring time.  This has survived several solar rotations now, with each rotation manifesting itself in slightly different form as it becomes weaker.  There is every chance that this region is the last major event of cycle 24 and so represents the 'terminator' event for this cycle.  While the magnetic field strength has dropped below the 1500 gauss needed to produce sunspots, there is sufficient magnetic fields to still produce filalments and also coronal holes.  It may well be that when the features we see above have finally totally (magnetically) diminished that this is when cycle 25 starts to kick in proper.  This may well have a few more rotations of activity left in it before it is gone, but will be interesting to track and hopefully observation backs up the theory.  The top image was taken with the 8" HaT and Daystar Quark with the 0.7x Baader Solar Telecompressor and the FLIR GH3 IMX174 camera, bottom image shows wider scale with the SM90 double stacked with the Daystar Quark and the FLIR GH3 ICX916M camera.  

Monday, 29 July 2019

Ha Full Disks 29th July

A couple of full disks from today; first up with the Coronado SM90 at prime focus, then followed by the double stack disk with the Lunt LS50 etalon and Daystar Quark.  Camera used in both instances was the FLIR GH3 ICX916M.  There isn't a huge amount of difference in details that would normally be expected in a single stack double stack comparison.  Maybe I didn't have the etalons tuned quite right?

Friday, 26 July 2019

Remnants of Active Regions in Ha - 25th July

This filament and turbulent plage is all that now remains of the equatorial active regions that marked the last major activity of cycle 24.  Taken with the Coronado SM90, 2x cemax barlow and the FLIR GH3 IMX174 camera.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Departing Active Regions in Ha - 25th July

This is the only 'hi res' shot I salvaged today, with the SM90 and 2x cemax barlow, with temperatures up in the high 30's imaging wasn't really on the cards!  A few days ago this turbulent plage on the limb was a small cycle 24 active region.  The IMX174 camera was unhappy as was recording a working temperature of 62c - ouch!

Ha Full Disk 25th July

A hot day today, probably the hottest of the year. Seeing was shot before 7am and I seemed to waste too much time trying to get hi res stuff to no avail. The cameras weren't liking it and were up over 60c. In the end was too hot to be sitting directly in the sun so settled for a full disk. Lunt 50 etalon double stacked with the Quark on the ED60 f6 scope, Baader 0.7x solar telecompressor was used with the GH3 ICX916M to get a full disk on the chip.

The sun is far from quiet, despite what Spaceweather.com keeps saying - the filament coming around the limb on the equator marks where we had active regions around Easter time, a small flux region mid disk is also the decaying relics of cycle 24. The active region from earlier in the week has all but decayed before it passes over the limb in the next day or so. No proms today but a few bright points here and there that may be indicative of cycle 25, the northern filament is likely to be indicative of the cycle 25 band.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

AR12745 with the HaT 23rd July

Conditions were good before 7am this morning, and before the seeing completely deteriorated  I got this image of the active region with the Airylab Hat, Daystar Quark and FLIR GH3 IMX174 camera.  The active region has considerably died back in activity compared to yesterday, and by wednesday I expect little to be left apart from a patch of plage.

Ha Full Disk 23rd July

Todays full disk is rather quieter than the previous; the active region has diminished in activity, and also the filament to the north has also faded away.  There are nice proms visble though!  Taken with the LC50 on the ED60/f6, double stacked with the Daystar Quark and also using the Baader solar telecompressor to reduce the image scale back a bit, camera was the FLIR GH3 ICX916M.  Looks like the plage relics of the active regions from previous rotations may be making a come back on the western limb, certainly something to keep an eye on in the days ahead...

Monday, 22 July 2019

S6220 in Ha - 22nd July

This undesignated little region appeared to have quite a lot going on with it, with clear magnetic field lines and pores visible in white light.  Taken with the Coronado SM90 double stacked with the Daystar Quark and the FLIR GH3 ICX916M camera using 2x2 binning to get a better scale for sampling.

Northern Filament 22nd July

Double stacking the SM90 with the Daystar Quark gave a high power high contrast view of the filament that was floating around in northern polar regions today.

Double Stacked Disk 22nd July

Despite only being taken with 50mm aperture compared to the previous full disk which was taken at 90mm aperture, the higher contrast of the double stack setup makes details easier to see.  The filament and active region really stand out in comparison to the single stack image, with proms also being nice and easy too.  Taken with a Lunt50 etalon double stacked with a Daystar Quark on the 60mm f6 refractor,  a 0.7x Baader solar telecompressor was used to reduce the image scale so that the full disk would fit on the chip of the FLIR GH3 ICX916M camera.

Full Disk with the SM90 - 22nd July

Lots of nice spicules and detail around the small active region in this full disk taken with the Coronado SM90 and FLIR GH3 ICX916M camera.

Friday, 12 July 2019

CaK Full Disk 5th July

It was nice to do some CaK imaging on 5th of july as this seems to be a wavelength i've been neglecting of late.  With all the tell tale signs of cycle 25 activity being visible at times this wavelength is excellent at picking up on these features.  The seeing was reasonably good last friday morning, so I did a full disk with the 100mm Tal100R refractor at prime focus, f10 with the home brew CaK filter.  The camera used was the FLIR Grasshopper 3 ICX916M.  Lots of detail is visible in the full size image.

Ex Active Regions in CaK light - 5th July

Calcium light is great for showing these turbulent regions of plage associated with old active regions. This particular one is a cycle 24 active region that formed on the equator way back in early spring, here in mid summer the remnants are clear to see.  Taken with the 100mm Tal100R refractor, 3x barlow, home brew CaK filter and the FLIR Grasshopper 3 IMX174M camera.

Emerging Flux Region in CaK - 5th July

A small emerging flux region had just passed over the solar limb in this image taken on July 5th.  Scope used was the 100mm Tal100R refractor, 3x barlow lens, homebrew CaK filter and the GH3 IMX174M camera.