Staring at the Sun

Sun Spot AR2671 photographed in H-Alpha, Chromosphere layer.

Well what can I say except yes, I am staring at the Sun . . . why? you may be asking . . .    I’m a morning person, ya ya . . . one of “THOSE” kinda people!  I am not into staying up all night and sleeping the day away . . . I wake up more cranky then ever . . . I like getting up at 5 AM (a habit I got from 20 years in the Navy) . . . my wife is not a morning person and growls at my smiling face if I try and get her up before 8 AM . . . she’s a sleep in kinda person! they say opposites attract! . . . . I am way off subject already, let’s get back on track.

The lead in photo is of a Sun Spot on the western limb of the sun (meaning it is going away), I took the photo and processed it with my normal telescope, a special filter and a small ccd video camera, after which I put it through 3 programs to align, stack, sharpen, colorize and finally resize and annotate before posting it to my Facebook account and several Astronomy groups and sometimes to my Deviant Art account (DigiPainter).  Technically the image is ok, a bit soft and lacks details which is a limit of my little ccd camera’s abilities, meaning I am pushing it, another factor is what is called (seeing)which is short for atmospheric conditions.  When we look up at the stars at night this seeing can be best described as how much turbulence is in the sky above, the twinkly the stars the less clear they are.  The Sun (our Star) is very close but the details of the surface can be just as obscured by this seeing . . . imagine an object at the bottom of a pool, when the surface is calm we can see the object with very little distortion, disturb the surface with ripples and the object at the bottom of the pool becomes distorted.  That best describes the atmosphere about the earth and how it bends the light affecting the seeing  and the terms usage by  astronomers and astro photographers when they refer to the visual effects when looking or photographing objects outside our atmosphere.  When photographing the Sun the use of high speed video cameras are a must because of the constant activity.  No, is doesn’t look like a Nat Geo movie showing filaments, sudden jets bursting forth and huge arches suddenly appearing and disappearing . . . that is time lapse because the events like this on the sun can take minutes to hours to change.  The smaller elements that look like a fuzzy carpet change in minutes.  These various elements Sun Spots, the swirls, Filaments, flares, prominence’s and other features are what I like to photograph as they are mesmerizing and constantly changing.

Sun Spot AR2672, 08-26-2017

The challenge every day is the “seeing” . . . and then the next challenge is “post processing”.

Chromosphere, AR2671, 08-26-2017, mono color, showing huge prominence’s along the limb.

The following photo was from 08-21-2017, the day of the Eclipse using H-Alpha filtering.

Eclipse in H-Alpha, 08-21-2017

I used this rig for the previous H-Alpha eclipse photo with a 100mm nikkor lens.

H-Alpha Solar Rig for imaging, this allows various camera lenses, telescopes to be used with the Daystar Quark H-Alpha filter.  Set up (this is in visual setup) on a cheap iOptron Cube to track the Sun, L – R, eyepiece, diagonal, Quark Filter “Chromosphere model”, Nikkor 135mm lens, orange cube is an iOptron Cube-A . . .

So to recap, Yes . . . I stare at the Sun . . .

  • difficulty high
  • always challenging
  • equipment technically challenging
  • post processing technically challenging
  • satisfaction level – high when successful
  • and always interesting when sister Serendipity lends a hand

I enjoy challenge, I enjoy learning those two things keep me young and alive.

Hope you enjoyed the brief story and As I become more efficient with the process and improve my gear a bit you may see some of the wonders of our Star . . . the Sun . . . I’ll leave you with this image . . .

titled: Don’t Fly To Close”,  That was a Ring necked Dove flying about during the eclipse, the shadow on the clouds bottom center is the eclipse shadow . . .

this is Digipainter . . . . aka (Tim) . . . get off your butt, go take a picture . . . have fun


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