Monday, July 22, 2013

Hot July Sun

Good Seeing!

Virginia weather in mid-July is hot and humid. I had done no solar observing for a month while steamy, tropical, rainy conditions persisted day after day. Finally, on the morning of July 16th, cloudless skies were temporarily present. Sometimes, at this time of year, clear skies will last for a few precious early morning hours before the usual afternoon clouds return. Sometimes these rare morning opportunities also include very steady air. On July 16th the air was very still, but also very humid! Moisture condensed on my telescope and mount until they reached ambient temperature. The steady air allowed excellent image detail, the best this year so far. Two modest sunspots were visible along with numerous filaments and some nice prominences.

This 21-image mosaic, made with a 2X Barlow lens, shows the solar disc on July 16th. In the upper left is sunspot 1793. Slightly below center is sunspot 1791.
Click for full detail.
Next is the inverted version of the previous image. It highlights filaments suspended above the solar disc. Filaments are dark in the previous image, but look like white clouds in the inverted image.
Click for full detail.
Here is a nicely detailed image of sunspot 1793 alone. The steady air allowed radial lines to be seen in the penumbra surrounding the darkest part of the sunspot.
Click for full detail.
Sunspot 1791, a bit smaller than 1793, was accompanied by several dark filaments.
Click for full detail.
An inverted version of the filaments, with sunspot 1791 in the upper right, shows the filaments as white floating clouds.
Three nice prominences were displayed along the Sun's southeastern rim, portrayed here in yellow in the following 3-image mosaic.
Click for full detail.
It's hard to get a detailed image showing both prominences and surface features in one exposure. Prominences are relatively faint, so they require longer, more sensitive exposures. Disc features are relatively bright, so they are overexposed when acquiring prominence detail. I made the following picture by combining two images, one designed to capture faint prominence details, and the other designed to capture disc details.
Click for full detail.

Clouds began moving in front of the Sun after a little more than an hour of frantic imaging. How many days will pass before I can observe again?.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Lynchburg Photos

Nature Close to Home

Recent weather prevented solar observing for the last month. Most days have been overcast and rainy. I was particularly disappointed to miss imaging the huge, complex sunspot group crossing the Sun last week. So, instead of my usual astronomical images, I've decided to share some pictures taken over the years around my house.

I'm hoping to see sunlight like this in my yard soon.
A young deer has been grazing our back lawn almost daily this week. I caught it chomping on an azalea bush.
A few years ago a bat decided to camp in our carport for a while.
This hawk pounced from its perch to the ground, but apparently missed its prey.
One spring, robins built a nest in the planter directly in front of our living room window. I took these pictures through the window glass so I wouldn't disturb feeding time.
Some natural activity isn't very attractive! The green goop seen in the next two pictures has invaded a patch of bare ground in our yard. At first, I thought it was animal droppings. Later, I discovered it's a species of blue-green algae called Nostoc Commune. I'd love to get rid of it, but it's devilishly hard to pick up. It has a tendency to break into smaller pieces and worm its way around rocks and plants. What a mess!

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