Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Nice Sunspot Pair

Nice Filaments Too!

It must be difficult for meteorologists to accurately predict cloud cover. Over many years of astronomical observing I've found their forecasts unreliable. May 25th was a perfect example. Instead of predicted clear skies, lots of clouds were present. Fortunately, there were enough gaps between clouds to allow some solar imaging. A strong breeze blew from time to time, but periods of good seeing did exist as clouds drifted by. It took nearly two hours to align my telescope mount because recent driveway paving had covered the accurate placement marks I had previously made for the tripod legs.

Two medium-sized sunspots were on display. Sunspot 1755, accompanied by dark, wavy filaments, appears above sunspot 1756 in the 6-image mosaic below. Tiny sunspot 1757 had just emerged from around the Sun's eastern limb on the left. This image was made with my new 1.5X Barlow lens.
(Click for full detail.)
Images here in my blog are usually displayed in colors that show well on computer screens. If you looked through the eyepiece of my solar telescope, the color would be red, and the view would be almost exactly like this:
The next image, is a larger view of sunspot 1755 and its accompanying filaments. This is a 3-image mosaic made with a 2X Barlow lens.
(Click for full detail.)
An inverted version of the preceding image highlights the floating filaments.

Finally, here is an enlarged view of sunspot 1756 made with a 2X Barlow lens.
(Click for full detail.)
I made new alignment marks on my driveway after I finished imaging. I'll be curious to see if they work well when I set my equipment up next.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sunny Mother's Day

A Sprinkling of Sunspots

May 12th, Mother's Day, was sunny, dry, and breezy. Several sunspots were scattered across the Sun as shown in the following 5-image mosaic made with a 2X Barlow lens.
(Click for full detail.)
The next image is a closer look at the biggest sunspot, 1745, which appears at the upper left in the image above. Smaller spot pair 1744 is seen at lower right in the image below.
(Click for full detail.)
Sunspot 1746 had a small outburst above it.
(Click for full detail.)
Two nice large prominences were also visible on the Sun's western limb. This one had a dark filament to its left.
(Click for full detail.)
A bit further around the southwestern limb was a second large prominence shown here in bright yellow.
(Click for full detail.)
Many images from this observing session were poor in quality, partly due to bad seeing. I also noticed tracking problems due to the initial poor telescope mount alignment. My driveway was recently paved, and my carefully positioned tripod placement marks were paved over. Although I used the compass feature on my smart phone to initially align my tripod north-south, apparently, this alignment was several degrees off true north. So there was more drifting than usual during my video imaging segments.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Riding the High Bridge Trail - Part 2

A Hectic Day

We recently rode the first half of the High Bridge Trail near Farmville, VA. On April 24th the weather was warm and sunny, and we decided to complete the second half of the trail. Our journey began in Farmville where the trail intersects Main Street. A free municipal parking lot was convenient nearby, and clean, modern rest rooms were available across the street. The next two images show the starting point of our trip and the mileage marker just beyond the start.
Very soon after leaving Main Street we came upon this wooden bridge crossing the sunlit Appomattox River.
During the early miles we pedaled through pleasant woods and fresh, green, spring foliage. We passed an old brick house, named Rice, dating from 1840.
Soon we approached the structure that gives the trail its name: the .45 mile-long High Bridge. (Click on the image of the sign below if you have trouble reading the information on the right side of the sign.)
Two views along the High Bridge:
The High Bridge passes above surrounding trees. Here's one view of the countryside from the bridge. Cross winds were quite strong while we rode over the bridge.
The High Bridge spans the Appomattox River. This relatively modest river, seen below, hardly seems worthy of such a huge bridge.
About 3 miles after the High Bridge we crossed above Route 460 on this fenced bridge.
Not long after crossing Route 460 the trail intersects Rice Depot Road. We saw some interesting old buildings there. The end of the trail is 6.8 miles from Rice Depot.
Then it was time for a banana break at this picnic table about 9.8 miles from the start.
After the banana break C turned around and began pedaling back to Farmville. I continued on toward the end of the trail. At first, I encountered a long straight section. Then I passed through a gap between rocks.
As the trail's end neared I came upon this tree blocking the way.
The eastern end of the trail was just visible, only about 200 yards beyond the downed tree, where an overgrown rocky mound of earth marked the end. There was no way to bike beyond this barrier.
I climbed up the small path to the top of the mound, and was greeted with this view of receding tracks.
Now, at this turn around point, it was 14.8 miles back to Farmville. Earlier in the ride we learned my daughter was about to give birth to my second grandchild. I was anxious to finish the ride and get ready for a trip to the hospital in Richmond where the delivery was imminent. I normally like to cruise along slowly on trail rides, but I pedaled back to Farmville was as fast as I could. In less than an hour I arrived, exhausted, in Farmville after a round trip of 29.6 miles.

After a quick lunch in Farmville we drove back to Lynchburg, packed hastily, ate a hurried supper, and drove to Richmond. There we learned the baby wouldn't be born until the next day. So we drove on to Williamsburg to spend the night. It was a long and hectic day with lots of time on the road. Our granddaughter, Annabelle, was born on April 25th! Here she is!
I now have two granddaughters! Here tiny Annabelle is carefully held by her big sister, Sophie. I wonder what Sophie's active little mind is thinking!

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