Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spotting a solar prominence and prominent solar spots

Spending this weekend at home, catching up on all the wonderful responsibilities and tasks that accompany being a husband, father and law abiding citizen, finally afforded me some time to enjoy observing the Sun.  As much as I enjoy preparing my state and federal taxes I believe I enjoy observing more...and the good news this year is that I do not need to pawn an eyepiece or two to pay a tax bill.

Saturday I spent a bit of time observing the Sun through my 60mm Hydrogen Alpha telescope, and was just starting to take some images when the power went out in our neighborhood.  Fortunately, I had already captured an image of a fantastic prominence before the power went out...and it is presented below.  I had to blow out the disc in order to expose the prominence, but you can see just how impressive it was.  Consider that the Sun is about a million miles in diameter and that this prominence was approximately 15% of the solar diameter in size and it is safe to assume that this tower of plasma was standing at least 150,000 miles high!

This morning I opened up my observatory and used my 90mm Stellarvue triplet equipped with a Lunt Solar Systems Herschel Prism to observe the Sun in white light.  I was rewarded with some steady views that showed several spot regions.  Below is a stack of 300 frames taken with my ASI120MC camera, at 9:04 AM local time (1604 UT).  Click the image to enlarge it to full size.

For comparison, here is an image from the Solar Dynamics Observatory taken near the same time with the active regions labelled.  As you can see, good optics, a decent camera and steady seeing can produce some impressive results!

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