Solar Update: July 2022

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.

Sun Prominence by Instagram user Rob Calfee. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Majestic prominences reach out from the solar limb as filaments snake across the fibrils on the face of the Sun. Imaged with Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate on a Lunt100MT telescope with double stack filter into ZWO ASI174MM camera. The effective focal length with Powermate was 1785-mm. Taken July 3rd from North Carolina.

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.

Sun Photosphere Active Regions 12993, 12994, 12995 by Flickr user Carlo Casoli. All rights reserved. Used by permission. This group of sunspots fascinated observers as they rotated over the face of the Sun in early Spring of this year. Tele Vue 4x Powermate was used to amplify a filtered TEC 140 f/7 APO telescope to an effective focal length of 3920 mm focal length for detailed solar imaging. A Baader Cool-Ceramic Herschel Wedge with Baader2-inch Solar Continuum Filter (540 nm) made it safe to image with a ZWO ASI 174MM camera. Taken April 24, 2022 from Casalecchio di Reno in Italy.

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. 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!

Mancha solar 3055 (with Earth for scale) by Instagram user astronuba. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
“A sunspot arises due to the magnetic field lines that emerge from the interior of the Sun towards its surface, generating dark areas, due to a drop in temperature of the solar surface (about 3700° C compared to 5500° C on its surface). These spots are made up of dark zones, umbra, and transition zones, penumbra. These spots occur more frequently the closer the Sun is to its maximum 11-year cycle — being able to reach sizes superior to our own Earth. This happens precisely with the active region of the photograph.” A Maksutov 127mm /1500mm scope was connected to a Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate (making an effective focal length of 3750mm) to closely frame the sunspot. A ZWO ASI120MC camera was used to take 90-seconds of video. Processed in AstroSurface and Photoshop. Taken from Huelva in southwestern Spain on July 10, 2022.

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.

Powermates come in 1¼” (2.5x & 5x) and 2″ (2x, & 4x).

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.

Powermate T-Ring Adapters (left-to-right): PTR-2200 for 2x, PTR-4201 for 4x, and PTR-1250 for 2.5x & 5x Powermates.

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.

Read more on our Powermate page (mobile site).

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.

July’s Active Sun by Instagram user Glen Pidsadnick / RASCanada ─ Niagara Centre. All rights reserved. Used by permission. The Tele Vue NP101 with Baader white light filter was used to image the Sun with a ZWO ASI183mm camera. Exposure was 2000 frames, stabilized using PIPP, and the best 20% stacked in AutoStakkert with finishing in Photoshop 2022. Image taken on 2022 July 12.
Orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory image taken on 2022 July 12. Courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams and

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.

Calcium K Line Sun by Glen Pidsadnick. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue NP101 with Calcium K filter was used to image the Sun with a ZWO ASI183mm camera on 2022 July 12.

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.

Active Region 3038 by Instagram user Rob (astro_hog). All rights reserved. Used by permission. Active Region 3038 made some headlines at the end of June when it more than doubled in size in a 24-hour period as solar rotation brought it directly facing the Earth. The fear was that it would throw off a flare that would hit the Earth. But that never happened. A Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate was attached to a 152mm / 988mm refractor (effective focal length 2470mm) using a 2″ Lunt White Light Wedge and imaging was done with an ASI290mm camera. Taken from Ontario, Canada.

It’s been an exciting solar cycle and we’ll bring you more updates in the future.

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