Solar imaging after the rain

With all this rain we’ve been having I was starting to wonder if we’d ever see the Sun again here in the UK. Thankfully, a few small gaps in the clouds last week did give me the chance to get the solar imaging kit out. The first two images below show the main active regions visible in hydrogen alpha light on the 6th May. These include AR1476 which had then only just appeared over the Sun’s limb. The third is from the 1st May.

The pictures were all taken using an Imaging Source DMK 21AU618.AS CCD camera (shooting at 60FPS), a 2x Barlow lens and a Coronado PST hydrogen-alpha filtered telescope.

As for AR1476, it has grown substantially since these pictures were taken. It now measures roughly 160,000km across according to Spaceweather.com. What’s more, as the Sun gets increasingly active in the run-up to solar maximum we can look forward to seeing more enormous sunspots and active regions, like AR1476, appearing on the Sun’s disc. As long as the clouds stay away that is.

A word of warning: never point an unfiltered telescope, unfiltered pair of binoculars etc. at the Sun. You will damage your eyes and almost certainly blind yourself. If you want to observe the Sun only use specialist certified solar filters that have been fitted correctly (and thoroughly checked) and that have been purchased from a reputable astronomical supplier. Be sure to follow any usage instructions carefully. Finderscopes etc. should also be filtered or removed.          

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