Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fun in the sun

Fried egg on sidewalk
Summer is here in Tucson....last night I was in my observatory at 10:00 PM and the temperature (albeit on my phone!) read 96 degrees F.  I was actually sweating while observing globular many of you can claim that feat?!?

Today it is predicted to be around 100 degrees by lunch and approaching 108 in the mid-afternoon..."but it's a dry heat"...Yeah...Right.  Whoever originated that comment was either severely arthritic or delirious from heat stroke.  I've been to Houston and spent over a dozen summer vacations in North Carolina.  Humidity is oppressive no doubt, but 110 in the shade is more than an expression, it's HOT!

Regardless, I decided that my solar observing itch needed to be scratched this morning, so I dutifully got out of bed at 0600 local time and set up the telescope.  Two hours later, I was out observing El Sol and feeling somewhat closer to her than usual as I worked to keep the dripping sweat from landing in the eyepiece or on my sketching clipboard. Despite the inferno, the seeing conditions were actually quite steady as the high pressure system that has settled over Arizona has created a bubble of steady air over much of the southern portion of the state.  I completed the sketch below at 1507 UT (8:07 AM MST) using my Lunt 60mm dedicated Hydrogen Alpha Telescope.  The image is from the Solar Dynamics Observatory's Atmospheric Imaging Assembly at 1259 UT, about 2 hours prior to my sketch.  Click on either to enlarge them.

As you can see, there are five active regions on that face of the sun, however, none of them are as impressive visually as what the SDO image would imply.  Region 11236 which is rotating off the west limb is certainly the brightest region and contains a couple spots visible in HA.  AR 11242 was also interesting in that it appears to be dividing and each side contains a small spot.  The most exciting features of the day were the very bright prominences on the northeast and southwest limbs.  The large on on the northeast was growing rapidly during the time of my sketch, and it will be interesting to watch this throughout the morning.


  1. I wish I could swap with you! We've had nothing but cool temps, rain and clouds for the past two and a half weeks. June is often rubbish here (it's known as Flaming June but not because it's hot...! :p) and, coupled with the permanent twilight at these latitudes for 7 weeks, it's a miserable time for the deep sky observer :( July and August should be better...

    Lovely solar sketches there.

  2. At least the nights here are steady still this week...but that is about to change as our "rainy" season is about to begin and we will not have a clear night until September. I am celebrating the last clear new moon by heading to a dark site this weekend...

  3. I've had an amazing summer with alot of clear skies, enjoying it out there to the max this year!

  4. Yes- I've just recently started following your blog and am enjoying reading your reports on your summer...they are wonderful, and given the virtually non-stop cloud cover we have had here this summer, I am living vicariously through you!