Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Glorious Prominences

Ring of Fire

After more than three weeks of clouds, rain, and wind, the morning of May 4th was good for solar observing. Seeing conditions varied. At times, the air was steady enough to capture some good images. The Sun displayed only a modest smattering of sunspots, but a lovely array of prominences adorned the limb!

The first picture below is a mosaic composed from 14 individual images, each made with a 2X Barlow lens. It shows roughly one quadrant of the Sun with large double umbra sunspot 2049 above and to the left of center. Sunspot 2047 is below and to the right of center. A bright flaring region is overexposed to the upper right of sunspot 2047. Some beautiful prominences are visible on the limb. (Click on the image for a larger view.)
Next is a mosaic designed to highlight prominences. It was made from 19 individual images, again, using a 2X Barlow lens. Prominences are much dimmer than the Sun's disc. The overexposed disc has been covered by a black circle, so only the prominences and spicules on the rim are seen. When the camera is set to capture prominence detail it also, unfortunately, captures noise in areas close to the Sun's limb. The noise shows up as a hazy collection of dimly lit pixels forming a halo around the Sun's edge. In the picture below I erased most of this noise by hand. It took more than an hour to complete the task and left me blinking through watery eyes by the time I finished. (Click on the image for a more detailed view.)
This is the best image of prominences I've made so far.

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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