Solar activity continues to increase ahead of the prediction curve and solar imagers are loving it! In this gallery blog, we take a peak at some recent solar images.
We start with Rob Calfee’s image of horns on the limb of the Sun. These are echoed by two snake-like features in the foreground. The horns are actually a Prominence: a loop of plasma flow from sunspot to sunspot. On the limb, they look bright, but on the solar disc look dark because they are cooler than the surface. The fur on the surface of the Sun are magnetically confined tubes of plasma called fibrils.
This next image was made with a monochrome camera and then tinted in processing. It shows a tight grouping of three active regions — areas of strong local magnetic field that give rise to visible features like sunspots. The regions are embedded in granules that are formed by a convection process that continually delivers energy from deeper in the Sun to the surface.
Space Weather Prediction Center
The above National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center sunspot graph shows a rising level of solar activity that would be more typical of next Spring for this solar cycle. This information is courtesy of a dashboard on their site for space weather enthusiasts.
The Sunspot Number is not a simple count of the number of sunspots on the Sun. It speaks to the number of sunspot groups and individual spots. Spaceweather.com suggests that amateur astronomers can estimate the number of sunspots visible in a small scope by dividing the daily Sunspot Number by 15.
This next image is a great reminder of just how big these spots on the Sun are. The easily visible ones are typically bigger than our Earth!
Meet the Tele Vue Line of Powermate Amplifiers
You’ll notice all the closeup images on this page were made with Tele Vue Powermates. That’s because today’s small, portable, solar telescopes just don’t have the focal length necessary to frame detailed images of the Active Regions — see the image captions for the effective focal lengths created by Powermates.
Discerning solar imagers choose Tele Vue’s Powermate™ line due to the distinct advantages over simpler Barlows for visual and imaging. Powermate photo / visual amplifiers increase the focal length of your scope with reduced aberrations, greater magnification potential, and compact size compared to typical Barlow lenses. Also, Powermates™ can be stacked with no adverse impact. Powermates are available in different barrel sizes and powers to meet your mission needs: 1¼” (2.5x & 5x) and 2″ (2x, & 4x) formats.
Imaging with Powermates is easy: the visual tops all unscrew to accept a specific Tele Vue Powermate T-Ring Adapter for use with standard camera T-rings.
Royal Astronomical Society of Canada ─ Niagara Centre member Glen Pidsadnick captured this active, full-disk solar image with a Tele Vue NP101 APO telescope (left). Next to it is a solar disc image from the orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory taken the same day. You can match the features on this space image to what Glen captured on the ground.
This second image from Glen, made at the same time as the first, used a Calcium k line filter that operates at 393.3nm in the far violet end of the spectrum. Notice how the plages (light areas around sunspots) stand out more in this wavelength.
Below is an excellent example of sunspots showing a dark, central area (the umbra) and a lighter outer area (the penumbra) in a sea of granules.
It’s been an exciting solar cycle and we’ll bring you more updates in the future.
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