Sunday, August 4, 2013

Brief Observing Window

Five Sunspots

A cold front passed through Lynchburg leaving a nearly clear blue morning sky on August 2nd. I quickly set up my telescope and discovered very steady images on the computer screen. Initial inspection of the Sun revealed five modest sunspots, but no dramatic filaments or prominences. Prominences were not prominent! I decided to image only disk features for this session.

The 22-image mosaic below, made with a 2X Barlow lens, shows most of the solar disk on August 2nd. Three sunspots appear along a diagonal line running from left to right on the upper portion of the disk. They are numbered 1809, 1808, and 1807 from left to right. Another two sunspots lie along a parallel diagonal line in the lower portion of the disk. They are numbered 1810 and 1806 from left to right. Steady atmospheric conditions allowed this mosaic to show very good detail which will become apparent when you click on the image to get a larger version.
Click for full detail.
Next is a nicely detailed view of sunspot 1809 alone.
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The following 5-image mosaic captures sunspot 1806 and its surroundings in sharp detail. In particular, notice the region to the left of the sunspot. The grass-like spicules are very vivid!
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Sunspot 1806 itself displayed complicated structure seen in the magnified image below made with a 5X Barlow lens. The spot rests in a depression surrounded by a swirling forest of spicules. Dark stripes running diagonally from the darkest region down to the smaller group of dark spots probably follow magnetic field lines between regions of opposite magnetic polarity. When I obtained this image clouds were beginning to cover the Sun. Although I'm fairly happy with the image, I'd like to get sharper detail in the future. I had good seeing this time, but blasted clouds got in the way.
Click for full detail.
I finished my first video clip at 8:45 am. Unfortunately, increasing clouds ended my observations at 9:55 am. I managed to get 36 video clips in the brief one hour and ten minute observing window available. It's too bad I couldn't take advantage of the good seeing conditions for a longer time.

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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