Solar Astronomy

Right, so I can't get out at night as often as I would like, work and other duties interfere (or does viewing interfere with them?) Anyway, what to do, what to do? Let's observe the Sun.

Actually, I had been contemplating for a few years now that I should attempt the Astronomical League's "Sun-spotters Club". I've always lacked a certain amount of discipline when it comes to observing. I find the observing programs help keep me focused and they are designed to help build a useful knowledge base for the type of observing they promote.

Of course I chose to start  the program in the hottest spell we have had here in South Central Nebraska for a long time! Average temps hovering at about 100 F for well over a month. Dry too,, drought conditions.

I decided to us a smaller scope for Solar viewing. A couple of years back, I bought a Bushnell 100mm Mak-Cass NorthStar Go-To Scope. It has decent enough aperture and really surprisingly good optics. Paid $30.00 at a garage sale. Great buy!

I made a Solar filter out of two six-inch plastic rings and a 3.5 inch circle of Baader Solar Film. It cut the aperture down a bit, but it is still sufficient.

I also wanted to do some imaging. This is where some of the flaws of the scope and my eyepieces really showed up. They aren't bad, just some water-spot looking areas that I can't seem to find to get rid of.  They are not even noticeable when doing visual observing.I have an old Motic 1.3MP camera that is designed to attach directly to an eyepiece. Motic is a medical imaging company. In its day this was a very impressive microscope camera. Was able to purchase it when my lab upgraded. But the unit is close to ten years old now and uses proprietary software that is so-so.

I also used Registax v 6.1 to process the videos. It has a bit of a learning curve, but for solar and lunar work, it is fairly straight forward.

I utilized Spaceweather for observation planning and for verification of sunspot group numbers. Used the AL Sunspotters Club manual, which, by the way, is no longer being published.

The plan is to scan and post my drawings for the award here at this site, and that will likely occur fairly soon.

In the meantime, here are some pics I've done. They demonstrate my inexperience rather well, don't you think?