Friday, May 3, 2013

Naked eye sunspots

If you live in the Tucson area you know that the extremely high winds of the past couple days have resulted in a quite a layer of dust here in Tucson, and last night I observed Sunset from the summit of Mt. Lemmon through the layer of heavy dust in the valley below.  I was up at the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter conducting an evening observing program for a group of local 6th graders, and due to the thick dust we were able to observe a naked eye spot group on the Sun as it set, without optical aid.   It is surprising to some, but the earliest written records of sunspot observations come from Chinese astronomers who would view spots through fog or dust at Sunrise or long ago as 800 BC!

I recently purchased a canon 24-105mm F4 lens, and took the images below with this lens on my Canon T2i.  This is what the Sun looked like setting in the to enlarge:

Below is a crop of the Sun at full resolution.  Click it to enlarge it to full size (you may have to click it twice if your browser automatically re-sizes images) and you can see the spot group on the upper left that the students noticed.

Finally, I captured this image of one of the students looking at Jupiter through the 20-inch Jamieson Telescope.  It was a 1 second exposure, ISO 400, at the 24mm setting, handheld...As you can see, I am pretty happy with this new lens.  It focuses quickly and accurately and the color rendition is beautiful.

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