Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hydrogen Alpha sketch of the Sun

Click to enlarge
Now this is why amateur astronomers love Southern Arizona...dry climate, crystal clear skies, steady air...just last week we received the most significant rainfall of the year with several inches falling over several days, and now there is little trace.  The air is dry, no clouds from horizon to horizon, and observing conditions that are the envy of many.

Having spent the last two days observing the sun in white light, I had more time today to observe and sketch the sun using my Hydrogen Alpha telescope.  There are many active regions on the face of the sun, and it is now looking like the solar cycle (24) is truly in an upswing, albeit several years late.  As the Sun exhibits increasing levels of activity, it naturally takes an increasing amount of time to make a sketch.  Thank goodness for the weekend!

My sketch was completed at 1609 UT and during the time of my sketch, Active Region (AR) 11298 was exhibiting some weak flaring.  This region is quite dynamic with several dark filaments and bright plage throughout.  The flaring was occurring just to the north of the obvious spot in this region.  All of the regions on the sun today were moderately bright, with the exception of 11294 which appeared fairly weak.  The long filament in the northwest quadrant is impressive, and should it persist until on the limb may provide for some awesome prominences.  The images below are for comparison, with the black and white image from the Big Bear Solar Observatory and the colored image being from the Solar Dynamics Observatory.  Both images are from slightly after I completed my sketch.

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