Saturday, May 29, 2010

Solar report

Well, it's the weekend which means I get to observe the Sun and make some sketches.  If you could not tell from the blog, I have been bitten hard by the solar observing bug.  I still do plenty of observing at night, I just have not blogged much about it lately.

The Sun is a little more active today that it has been over the last several days.  There are no officially numbered active regions, however, there are some areas of hydrogen alpha emission that show increasing activity.  The sketch below was completed at 1515 UT (8:15 MST) and can be compared to Thomas Ashcraft's image taken at 1248 UT (he was up early!).  The image is reversed east-west from my sketch:

There is a region of increasing activity in the northeast, that appears as a small snake slithering its way onto the face of the sun.  In addition, there is some weak activity in the northwest.  The developing region in the southern hemisphere is the most interesting, however, as it is beginning to show bipolar filaments; these are the short magnetic field lines running east-west within the active area in my sketch.  Cai-Uso Wohler in Denmark captured a nice image of this region earlier today, which can be seen to the right.  Click the thumbnail for a full size version.

Stephen Ames, a dedicated and skilled solar observer in Kentucky made a great sketch of some of the prominences in the northern hemisphere.

After finishing my hydrogen alpha observation and sketch, I set up my TEC 140 and Lunt Herschel Wedge to see if the developing region in the southern hemisphere contained any spots.  Much to my delight, all three areas of hydrogen alpha activity contain spots!  I counted 16 spots total in the three regions.  Below is a sketch of the full disc (completed at 1605 UT ~ 9:05 MST) as well as a close up of the three areas.  The facula surrounding the northwest group was also quite bright, due to the proximity to the limb.

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