Sunday, September 11, 2011

80 degree(!) Solar observation

The last two nights have brought some remarkable thunderstorm activity to the Lost Pleiad Observatory.  While I do not have a rain gauge, those in the vicinity would suggest that we received around 1.5 inches of rain last night.  That may not sound like a lot to many of you, but consider that our annual rainfall total this year was less than 10 inches. There were several funnel clouds spotted last night around the Tucson valley along with unconfirmed reports of a tornado touching down.  The low pressure system that is causing these storms remains in place over Los Angeles and more storms are likely tonight...which means that the atmosphere remains fairly unstable.

I made an observation of the Sun this morning, and while the atmospheric stability was only fair, it was wonderful to be sitting at the scope under my towel without a continuous stream of sweat pouring off my body.  I had forgotten what 80 degrees feels like!  The sketch below was completed at 8:44 AM MST (1544 UT) with my Lunt Solar Systems 60mm Hydrogen Alpha telescope.  To the right is an image from Big Bear Solar Observatory captured 5 minutes after my sketch at 1549 UT.

Click to enlarge

There are four numbered active regions visible (to me) on the face, as well as what appears to be a developing region near the east limb on the equator.  The most impressive region is 11289 which sports some very large and dark spots, as well as a long snaking region of plage trailing to the east.  Consider that it would take about 110 Earths lined up to cross the diameter of the Sun, and you can see that these spots are larger than our own planet!

Departing region 11283 on the west limb was also showing some bright plage this morning as well as a few associated prominences.  This region was difficult to observe due to the atmospheric turbulence making the solar limb appear as if it were under water.  Both regions 11287 and 11290 appear weak, although my lack of observations this past week leave me unable to determine if these regions are decaying.  11287 does appear to have a spot.


  1. Perfect sketch Alan! Love it! :-)

  2. Thanks Mark- lots to see today and a beautiful morning as well.