Sunspots – Take 2

Another process run on the sunspot image I posted earlier, a stack of 800 out of 1200 frames, with notably better detail. The large complex is AR1967 just rotating into view. This spot has already spawned an M-class flare and more is likely. Forecasters have given the chances of more M-class flares at 60% with the chance of an X-class flare at 10%.

Sol 30Jan2014
The Sun on 30Jan2014 with the large sunspot complex AR1967.


Some unaided eye sunspots visible today and for the next few days. The huge group, AR1967 is probably another visitation of AR1944, which spawned a few large solar flares during the first week of January.

I took a few quick images using the AT6RC and a Canon 60D. A quick process is shown below, give me a bit I should be able to produce a better image.

Sun 30Jan2014
The Sun on 30Jan2014 including the large sunspot group AR1967

Postcard from the Universe – An Active Sun

After years of a nearly blank solar disk, we have a beautifully active Sun. Any time you have a chance to see the Sun through a telescope this year, do so. The view is replete with sunspots, or if you have a Hα filter, prominences and more…

The Sun
A white light view of the Sun on 13May2012

Preparing for the Venus Transit

The Sun
The Sun on 13May2012
Time to start preparing the gear for Venus Transit! This means dismantling the astrophotography rig in the garage and reconfiguring for solar work. Taking the the AT6RC telescope off and remounting the 90mm APO. The APO has just the right focal length to produce a nicely sized solar image on an APC-C sized sensor, such as the sensor in the Canon 60D.

First up? just setup the ‘scope in the driveway and take a few photos of the Sun. Just checking the photographic setup, the necessary parts and pieces. Nothing misplaced? Where did I store the solar filter? A nice focus on the camera? Perhaps take some nice photos of the large sunspots that current grace the surface of the Sun while I am set up. I hope we have some nice spots during the transit, they make focusing so much easier!

Next step is to get autoguiding operational, this will be a seven hour event and I really do not want to manually guide for the entire duration. Particularly with a telescope that was setup in the daytime and is not properly polar aligned.

A couple other steps remain in the preparation. Automate the camera to take photos at a regular interval. Insure I can provide a good video feed to the computer sending out the webcast. I do have a few more weeks to accomplish this. I am certain those weeks with speed by surprisingly quickly. Time to get ready!

Geomagnetic Update

The CME from yesterday’s solar flare struck at about 01:00HST, not as strongly as predicted. Right now there is a geomagnetic storm going on, but only at a moderate intensity, Kp=5. It takes something with a Kp>10 before aurora become a likelihood at low latitudes. Expect some nice photos from the folks up north as they get to enjoy the show.

The sunspot responsible for the flare, AR1429, is still there, pointed directly at our Earth. It harbors the energy for more X class flares, stay tuned!

Sun at 304nm
The Sun at 30.4nm (extreme ultraviolet) on 8Mar2012 showing the large sunspot group AR1429 (upper center), image credit NASA/SDO

Postcard from the Universe – Sunspots

As we approach solar maximum, large sunspot groups have again become a common sight. The last few years have seen an unusually quiet solar minimum, long stretches of time when not a single sunspot appeared. that has certainly changed, the Sun is now dotted with sunspots, with the occasional monster. At it’s peak, AR1339, seen above, was over 100,000km across. That is larger than 15 Earths, side by side. I mean monster!

The photo was taken with the Canon 60D, a 0.8x TeleVue adaptor, a C-11 and a Thousand Oaks full aperture solar filter.

Sunspot group AR1339 as seen on the afternoon of 5Nov2011