The only good thing to come out of this continuous bout of hot weather and a declared drought is that apparently it has been clear every night for over a week now. While that is fine for my fellow deep sky imager friends, it hasn’t been of any use to me as my own observatory has been decommissioned pending a possible rebuild next year.
The only astronomy I’m doing at the moment is variable star work using the iTelescope network of scopes in New Mexico . While that is fine, I’m told in jest that this is not real astronomy using other peoples expensive gear where you just to give the scope a plan to run , press a button and then go to bed.
My critic does have a bit of a point as there really is no substitute for being at the scope and making an observation of some kind through it in real time.
Well I think I may well have caught the Solar observing bug. That little session of Solar observation and drawing I did a few weeks ago was actually quite enjoyable and I think in the long term, that I’m likely to have more occasions to observe the Sun during the day than anything else when it gets dark.
As I have said on many occasions, Cornwall is one of the worst places in the UK to do Astronomy. Yes, I have the dark sky, but being stuck out on a peninsular on the edge the Eastern Atlantic makes for a wonderfully efficient cloud factory.
Anyway. I have signed myself up to the both the BAA and AAVSO’s Solar observing sections and over the last week, I have been making Sunspot and Sunspot group counts, which I will be submitting to both their databases at the end of this month.
The current set up is my Altair Astro 150mm RC mounted on the Skytee Alt/Az mount. The filter is of the metal coated glass variety which I got from Telescope House and which I now think is now sold under the Meade badge. My Van Slyke turret holds numerous eyepieces. While the image looks OK with the 40mm and 26mm El-Cheapo Meades, pushing eyepiece focal length shorter than 20mm turns the view to mush.
I think I may get better results using my TMB 80, which is going to give a sharper image over the RC anyday, and I should be able to use all of my much better quality Televue eyepieces – possibly down to the 6mm. With the shorter focal length TMB and the longer FL eyepieces the images doesn’t track out of frame so quickly, so you don’t have to keep adjusting the mount to bring the disk back into view – Yes I know. I need a tracking mount!
I’ve also borrowed my astronomy clubs Lunt 60 Ha scope and yesterday I was able to make some prominence drawings at the same time as my white light observations.
The Lunt using the 14mm Televue Delos gave an amazing image of both the prominences as well as faculae, filament and granular detail depending where you set the tuning of the filter.
The drawing above shows positions of white light sunspot and Ha prominence detail over a course of about 40 minutes.
The biggest problem at the moment is the accurate positioning of the sunspots on the paper. I have divided the drawing sheet into quarters, which helps, but when I overlay my drawing onto that days SOHO image, there are discrepancies as you can see here on the following image.
The darker spots are my drawing overlaid onto the lighter spots of the SOHO image.
For sunspot counting, exact positioning isn’t usually that critical as you are only counting groups and spots that are in the Northern or Southern hemispheres. However, when these features are close to the equator, any error in position will skew your count as your group and spot get allocated to the wrong hemisphere. You can see this better when my drawing is calibrated in Peter Meadows Helio Viewer software.
You can see those two large groups of spots along the equator line are probably too far North and should therefore be counted as Southern Groups and spots. I’ll need to take advice on how I deal with these errors.
My other drawings of this week have groups and spots well above and below the equator, so the counts are going to accurate enough to be added to the database.
Anyway, this is a far as I have got this week.