If you’re suffering from the cold northern winter like we are at Tele Vue headquarters in upstate New York, you’ll instantly be “warmed” by these “hot” solar images made by Jordi Sesé Puértolas from his balcony in Barcelona, Spain. These photos appear to show a blazing inferno on the “surface” of the Sun. However, science tells us this is not fire we are seeing but hot plasma (ionized gas) and gas in the wavelength of Hydrogen-α light.
In 2009, when he had difficulty traveling to remote astronomical observing sites, Jordi decided to try solar astronomy. With a south-west facing apartment balcony on the third floor, he was able to observe the Sun on weekends when weather and family permitted. Surrounding buildings do limit his observation times, especially in winter. However, as seen on the pages of this blog, he’s able to do great work even with these constraints.
We’re not the only ones to take note of Jordi’s images, he’s garnered multiple SolarActivity Picture of the Day awards from the SolarActivity group on Facebook. His images also appear on the Spanish solar observing site Parhelio.com and printed in the Spanish Astronomía magazine.
Jordi created most of the images on this page with a 100mm f/10 achromat telescope that has been outfitted with parts from a Coronado PST hydrogen-α telescope and additional accessories. He images through a Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate™ with a ZWO ASI174MM camera.
In the image above, the gold-colored diagonal contains a Coronado 10mm blocking filter that works with a solar filter that is in the tube between it and the silver telescope drawtube. This 10mm blocking filter allows more light throughput compared to the 5mm blocking filter found on the standard PST. Our Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate™ is attached after this blocking filter / diagonal. The red-colored ZWO monochrome camera on the Powermate™ records the image.
Between the Powermate™ and camera is a ZWO tilter that angles the camera imaging plane to avoid the “Newton Ring” effect (that would cause a bullseye pattern in the image). The end result of these modification is a setup that safely amplifies the image of the solar chromosphere far beyond what’s possible with the original PST, and at less cost than buying a dedicated hydrogen-α telescope of the same focal length.
When solar plasma follows the magnetic field lines produced by sunspots, it raises above the Sun’s surface in giant arches. When these arches are seen above the rim of the Sun against black space they are called “prominences.” When seen twisting over the face of the Sun, these same plasma flows appear as dark ribbons called “filaments.” Visible along the solar limb are jets of hot gas called “spicules” (“fibrils” when seen against the face of the Sun) that together can look like a reddish fur around the Sun.
Jordi often constructs composite images of prominences dancing along the solar limb. In this way he can show solar activity around the Sun in a single image.
For solar and planetary imaging, Jordi uses his 2.5x Powermate™ because it yields a better field of view than his Barlows. His collection of Tele Vue eyepieces and accessories include the 5x Powermate™, Paracorr coma corrector, and Tele Vue Nagler eyepieces.
Extend Your Reach with Powermates™
To increase the power of your favorite eyepiece, or for serious planetary / solar viewing and imaging through your scope, consider our Powermate™ amplifiers (mobile site). They increase the focal length of your scope with reduced aberrations, greater magnification potential, and compact size size compared to typical Barlow lenses.
Powermates™ can be stacked with no adverse impact. Tele Vue Powermates™ are available in 2″ barrels (2x & 4x) and 1¼” barrels (2.5x & 5x).
Imaging with Powermates™
Some of the finest Solar System images have been made with Powermates™. Used singly or stacked, Powermates™ help any scope achieve the long focal-length required to image details on Solar System bodies. The increased image scale allows for imaging without an intervening eyepiece — like in prime focus photograph. Most any commonly available DSLR, astro-camera, and even some industrial cameras will work with Powermates™. The visual tops all unscrew to accept a specific Tele Vue Powermate™ T-Ring Adapter for use with standard camera T-rings. Otherwise a cameras just needs a slip-in 1¼” or 2” nosepiece to slide into the visual top.
This Week in Apollo History
Apollo 9, launched March 3, 1969, conducted the first manned test of the Lunar Module (named Spider) while in low Earth orbit.
Read our January 2019 Anniversaries blog post to read how work on the Lunar Module Simulator inspired the Nagler and Ethos eyepiece lines.