Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Lost Pleiad Blog - 3 years and counting!

Happy New Year!  Today is a day of celebration at the Lost Pleiad Observatory.  Not only is it the New Year, but it is the third birthday of this blog, and Beth and I are happily celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary!  (No wonder I can hardly remember watching the Rose Bowl over the last 17 years... fortunately, Arizona has never played in that "granddaddy of them all"...).

As is my tradition, I like to observe the Sun on holidays- see this post from last year. Today I made a white light sketch of the Sun, complimented by an image of the Sun, taken using the Canon T2i DSLR camera I acquired earlier this year to photograph the Transit of Venus.

They make a nice pair, although looking at the image from the camera is nowhere near as satisfying as the eyeball view I had.  The image was taken first, at 11:58 AM (1858 UT) through my TEC 140 and a Lunt Solar Systems Herschel Prism.  There was a bit of high cirrus which helped to steady the image, yet there was also a lot of sunlight being diffused by the clouds...thanks to Photoshop  that diffuse light is no longer an issue!  Click to enlarge:

After taking the above image, I made a sketch using a 17mm Delos eyepiece and a single polarizing filter.  Again, the high level cirrus helped the seeing and I was able to see many spots in the active regions.  According to spaceweather.com today's sunspot number is 87.  You will quickly notice that the sketch is reversed horizontally from the image-  I flipped the image as just about any image of the Sun you look at will have north at the top and west to the right.  The sketch below represents the eyepiece view with west to the left. Click to enlarge:

The sketch was completed at 12:15 PM local time (1915 UT) and it a fairly accurate representation of the spot regions...other than I have drawn them a little too large and slightly out of place.  No surprise, considering I am slightly out of practice!.  While I made between 75 and 100 sketches of the Sun in 2010 and again in 2011, I only made about 30 sketches in 2012.  This is a result of working more, and also of acquiring the camera.  While it is quick and easy to take a solar picture, I was reminded today how much more I see when I spend the time observing and sketching.  I guess if I was the type to make New Year resolutions, one of mine would be to spend more time doing astronomical sketching in the coming year....and that is certainly easier and more rewarding than trying to drop the 5 pounds that seem to have shown up in my early 40's!

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