Friday, July 01, 2011

multiple wavelengths (Blue Mountains)

I asked if anyone felt like viewing the Sun. Everyone was keen.

1:36 PM. I moved astronomy box α, Denis's occultation kit, my sketching kit, large sketchbook, and other gear into the Geoff Brown Observatory. I unpacked my telescope and accessories to the Observing Pad, for Kiron to use later. I tested the Sony voice recorder for logging.

We opened up, partly, the GBO roof. It made the horrible screeching/scraping sound that Phil had noted. Phil showed me where the vinyl siding was rubbing the outside of the east rail. I suggested the roof had shifted due to how we had altered, slightly, the reinstallation of the spacer washers.

Kiron helped with solar set up. We readied the Tele Vue 101 refractor telescope in preparation for viewing the Sun in Hydrogen-α. We bolted up the Coronado SolarMax filters. I also dug out the baader solar film in the choked cap and secured it to the Celestron 14.

We started with CeMax 25mm eyepiece (giving us 22 power) in the white 'scope. The Sun was active, with many flares along the perimeter! In short order, we switched to the CeMax 18mm ocular, to zoom in closer (to 30x).

There was a lot of activity northern hemisphere. There was a big, very large, flare complex at 10 o'clock position (NW) and three small ones at 11 o'clock (NNW). Along the west edge just below equator we saw more flares. There was a small one around 7 o'clock position. And there was something around 1 o'clock (NE). Plus a number of foreground filaments.

Image from SDO, 2:05 EDT, north is up, west is right.

The seeing was bad.

We viewed the Sun in white light through the C14 at low power (71x). The Tele Vue 55 mm eyepiece, while distracting with dust and dried water droplets, showed a large sun spot complex, on the east side of the Sun, just below equator. According to, this was sunspot 1243.

There was some talk of the Personal Solar Telescopes we had on site. I was interested in viewing the Sun in purple! I dug out the PST packing case. We set up the equatorial mount and plugged in the clock drive. Roughly aimed it north. I fetched my Black Cloak of Doom, to shield light was viewing the dark image...

2:29 PM. We viewed the Sun with the regular PST (Hα) as well as the Ca-K PST (Calcium-K line).

People were struggling with the K20 eyepieces. Already the PSTs have a sensitive sweet spot. These crummy eyepieces just exacerbated the problem. Katrina said "that's why they're so cheap," the PSTs. I grabbed some "regular" eyepieces as well as oculars from the SolarMax kit. Better!

We kept cranking the power on the SolarMax rig. The TV Radian 10mm (at 54x) was very nice!

When I tried to align the refractor and catadioptric, the Tele Vue 101 'scope started slipping! My heart skipped a beat. On closer examination, I found that it was in fact the dovetail plate. The front rail screw had come loose. I tightened everything up and then resumed, via the back ring, aligning the two telescopes.

The Sun looked good. We enjoyed the views of our star.

After a long time at the eyepiece, I was thrilled to see, for the first time, in ultraviolet light from calcium ions, features! The sun spot region in particular yielded a large utterly black, dark spot. Still, I had to switch to averted vision at times, to see any detail in the low light at 393.3 nanometres.

It was a beautiful day.

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