Friday, December 18, 2015

Dramatic Solar Landscape

Sunspot and Prominence

December has been unusually warm this year in Virginia. December 16th was an especially beautiful day! Late morning temperature stood in the low 50's. Seeing was good, no clouds were visible in the blue sky, and only a gentle breeze puffed from time to time. I was quite comfortable wearing only a sweater.

On the 16th the Sun finally displayed exciting features after many nearly blank days. One large sunspot and one giant prominence were neighbors on the Sun's eastern half. The first image below shows a wide view containing most of the interesting features. It is a 16-panel mosaic made with a 5X Barlow lens. Each individual panel was made by stacking the best 100 frames from 2,000-frame videos. (Click on the images for a larger view.)
Next is a 6-panel mosaic capturing the two outstanding features. Each individual panel in this image was made by stacking the best 80 frames from 1,000-frame videos. Sunspot group 2470 has one large umbra on the right and a collection of smaller umbras on the left. A magnificent prominence arches up on the limb.
The sunspot and prominence were close enough together to fit in one frame in the following dramatic scene.
Finally, lots of complicated structure can be seen in sunspot group 2470 in the next image. There are gradations of darkness in the large umbra on the right, and smaller umbras on the left look like they want to join up. Good seeing revealed fine details in the penumbra. This image was made by stacking the best 100 frames from a 3000-frame video. (Click on the images for a larger view.)
The Sun was so beautiful on this rare lovely December day!

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