Monday, November 28, 2011

Best Mosaic Yet!

November 8, 2011

A multitude of interesting solar features were displayed on November 8th. Several sunspots, filaments, and prominences were visible and there were periods of good seeing during my three hour observing window.
Sunspot 1338 (Click for full detail)
 Some interesting dark filaments near sunspot 1340:
Sunspot 1340 with filaments (Click for full detail)
Nine separate overlapping images were blended together to produce the image below, the best mosaic I've been able to produce so far. You really need to view this image full size to appreciate all the detail present: a huge prominence on the upper left, two spectacular arcing filaments, bright white active areas, and four sunspots! The bottom part of the big prominence on the upper left curves down onto the solar disk where it appears as a broad dim filament. I'm really excited about this image!
L to R: Sunspots 1343, 1341, 1342 and 1339 (Click for full detail)
For 25 minutes from 12:41 PM to 1:06 PM EST the seeing was good enough to record some activity in the upper left region of the mosaic above. After 1:06 seeing drastically deteriorated and further imaging was futile. What a shame! Another 30 minutes or so would have revealed even more curling, undulating gas plumes and waving filaments. Please be patient while the movie loads and begins to play smoothly.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Giant Sunspot

Huge Sunspot Appears

Observing opportunities from my driveway diminish as autumn  proceeds. The Sun disappears behind chimneys and trees on its lower, ever-shortening arc across the sky. Only a few hours were available November 2 to image giant sunspot 1339 emerging around the Sun's rim.
Left:Sunspot 1339; Right: small sunspots 1337 and 1336 (Click for full detail)
Notice the flame-like gas plume erupting toward the rim from an active area within the 1339 complex on the left above. During a brief 25-minute interval from 2:44 PM to 3:09 PM EDT on November 2, 2011 I was able to record some of this eruption in the following movie:
Unfortunately, the movie ended prematurely when the Sun passed behind an annoying tree. I wish the action could have continued longer!

Three days later, on November 5, sunspot 1339 had been carried further toward the center of the Sun's disk. Although seeing conditions were mostly terrible on November 5, I was able to get one presentable image of 1339 showing its complicated structure more clearly than the image above.
Sunspot 1339 on November 5 (Click for full detail)
Three days later, on November 8, the seeing was better and sunspot 1339 now looked like this:
Sunspot 1339 on November 8 (Click for full detail)
 Notice the changes in 1339 over the three day interval from November 5 to November 8. The elongated sunspot on the far left seems to be fading out while the largest sunspot on the right has condensed a bit and is no longer split in two. More images from November 8 will appear in next week's post.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Nice Filament

Best Filament Image So Far

Filaments are somewhat like clouds above the solar chromosphere. They are cooler than their immediate surroundings and cooler than some of the chromosphere below. This relative coolness makes them appear dark against the background solar disk. Filaments are temporarily held in place by magnetic fields. The first image below is the best image I've yet captured of a filament, in this case a hook-shaped one beneath a patchwork pattern of bright activity:
Hook-shaped filament imaged on October 25, 2011 (Click for full detail)
When a filament is seen on the rim of the Sun it is called a prominence. The image above shows the "top view" of a prominence. The following image shows the "side view" of a (different) prominence with sunspot 1327 also visible.
Sunspot 1327 with prominences on the right (Click for full detail)
The original goal on October 25th was to use a Mylar-filtered Celestron-8 telescope mounted for the first time on my Ioptron Mini Tower Pro. I hoped to image the same sunspot in both the photosphere (visible surface of the Sun) and the chromosphere (layer just above the photosphere). I was curious to see if the Celestron-8 would capture any granulation (evidence of rising and falling gases) in the solar photosphere. Unfortunately, the seeing was not good enough to reveal detailed granulation. Intermittent breezes buffeted the telescope and images wavered and danced in the video display. Below are the best results for my photosphere/chromosphere comparison for sunspot 1330. First, the Celestron-8 prime focus photosphere image:
Sunspot 1330 with photospheric granulation barely visible (Click for full detail)
Here is an image of the same sunspot 1330 taken with the Lunt 100mm H-alpha telescope showing sunspot 1330 in the chromosphere:
Sunspot 1330 in the chromosphere (Click for full detail)
Here's a blinking comparison between the Sun's photosphere (purple) and chromosphere (red):
Purple to red moves outward away from the Sun's center.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Multiple Sunspot Movies

Four Sunspots In Action

The movies below were recorded on October 16th. They show 64 minutes of activity between 10:00 AM and 11:04 AM EDT in the four sunspots shown in this (colorized) still image.
Diagonally bottom to top: Sunspots 1314, 1319, 1316, 1317.
The movie of the entire scene above was too large to upload. Instead, I've broken it up into two smaller pieces. Both movies take a few minutes to load properly, so please be patient. In the upper right portion of the first movie a gas plume eruption is already in progress near sunspot 1317 at the movie's start, so the eruption seems to start instantaneously:
 The remaining two sunspots featured bright flare-ups as seen below:
Sunspot 1319 at top right has an eruption recorded here just about 20 minutes before the recording shown in my previous post. Bright eruptions also occur in sunspot 1314 at lower left, including one outburst from the edge of the dark umbra. The other flame-like explosion from 1314 seems to push gases along a c-shaped arc in the lower left corner.

People say I'm crazy doing what I'm doing
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin
When I say that I'm o.k. well they look at me kind of strange
Surely you're not happy now you no longer play the game

People say I'm lazy dreaming my life away
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me
When I tell them that I'm doing fine watching shadows on the wall
Don't you miss the big time boy you're no longer on the ball

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

John Lennon