Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Improved Mosaics - Part 1

New Discovery!

I recently discovered a free program called "Autostich" written by Matthew Brown and David Lowe. This amazing bit of software combines and blends individual images into much better mosaics than the version of Photoshop Elements I had been using. I've been able to go back and construct new, improved mosaics from images I captured earlier this year. For example, consider this 9-image mosaic from images taken on April 7, 2012:
The upper image is a normal positive image. The lower image is inverted to highlight floating filaments. Autostich did an amazing job removing brightness variations across the image. Previous attempts with Photoshop Elements resulted in a patchwork of obvious boundaries between individual constituent images.

More examples of improved image combination are two mosaics from images made on July 7, 2012. The top image is a 5-image combination, and the bottom image is composed of 8 individual images.
These images are huge! The full-sized version of the top image is 2640 pixels wide, and the bottom image is 3658 pixels high! The blog format will not display these images in their full size, but click on them anyway for a larger view.

Here's one more mosaic from July 28, 2012. It's an inverted version of an 18-image mosaic with prominences, filaments, and sunspots. The full-sized mosaic is 2568 pixels wide by 3765 pixels high.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Solar Feature Outburst!

Sun Wakes Up!

After some time without dramatic surface features the Sun's eastern side displayed great variety on November 11th. My brief observing window opened at 11:29 am when the low autumn Sun emerged from behind a cursed tree. The observing window closed a bit over an hour later at 12:35 pm when obscuring clouds thickened in the south. I worked quickly to capture 26 video clips before my luck ran out.

The first image below is a 12-image mosaic showing the nice array of features on the Sun's eastern half. At least six big filaments are visible along with six sunspots and one huge prominence. Far left of center, just emerging around the Sun's eastern limb, are sunspots 1614 and 1615. Slightly left of center is sunspot pair 1611 with solitary spot 1612 below the pair. In the bottom part of the image sunspot 1613 emerges near the limb and sunspot 1610 is off on the right. A beautiful wide prominence floats above the bottom limb.
Sunspots, filaments, and one big prominence (Click for full detail.)
Inversion of the previous image highlights floating filaments.
Beautiful suspended filaments! (Click for full detail.)
A closer view of complicated sunspot group 1610 and the S-shaped filament to its right was obtained with a 3X Barlow lens. This time no interference fringes were present!
Sunspot active region 1610 and filament (Click for full detail.)
Two filaments near sunspot 1610 stand out in this inverted image.
Sunspot 1610 with filaments (Click for full detail.)
An enlarged view of sunspots 1611, 1612, 1614, 1615, and nearby filaments is shown next in a 2-image mosaic.
L to R: Sunspots 1614, 1615, 1612, and 1611(pair) (Click for full detail.)
The inverted version below makes it easy to see arches of gas following magnetic field lines between opposite magnetic poles in the sunspot pair 1611 in the upper right:
My 2012 observing season is almost over because the Sun is getting too low. With luck it might be possible to squeeze one more session in before the end of November.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Late October Solar Tour

Three Image Scales

I was able to observe in wonderful weather on three of the days between October 21st and October 25th. This post shows results from the last day, October 25th.

Begin with an image taken at prime focus. It shows three sunspots as well as a large prominence at the bottom to the left of center.
Bottom to top: Sunspots 1599, 1598, 1596 (Click for full detail.)
Here's a magnified (and vertically flipped) image of the prominence:
Prominence imaged with 2X Barlow lens
Now look at a closer view of the three-sunspot array. This is a 5-image mosaic taken with a 2X Barlow lens:
Bottom to top: Sunspots 1599, 1598, and 1596 (Click for more detail.)
A 3X Barlow lens gives a closer view of the middle sunspot 1598:
Sunspot 1598 (Click for full detail.)
Finally, here is the upper sunspot 1596, also imaged with the 3X Barlow lens:
Sunspot 1596 (Click for full detail.)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Autumn Sun

Solar Variety

Three nice sunspots were spread across the Sun on October 22nd. This 5-image mosaic shows their location.
L to R: Sunspots 1598, 1596, and 1591 (Click for full detail.)
A closer view of sunspots 1598 and 1596 is shown in the following (differently oriented) 3-image mosaic.
Sunspots 1598 (bottom) 1596 (top) (Click for full detail.)
Sunspot 1596 showed fascinating complex structure seen in the following two images, the first with a 2X Barlow lens, and the second with a 3X Barlow lens. The second image shows annoying circular interference fringes probably originating from multiple reflections within the 3X Barlow.
Sunspot 1596 (Click for full detail.)
Finally, sunspots and prominences are not the only interesting solar features. I like this detailed image showing a forest of spicules and some filaments.
Filaments and spicules (Click for full detail.)

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