The Sun

Observing the Sun:

If you have never viewed the Sun before PLEASE ask one of our members to show you how to do this safely and read the page on Solar Safety before attempting any kind of viewing of the Sun!

Sunspot Numbers

When observing the Sun consider taking a count of active areas and calculating the relative sunspot number (R) and reporting these to the BAA Solar Section

The Sun has an obliquity to the ecliptic of 7.25° if you record your solar observations as drawings then you should use the appropriate Stonyhurst disc as a template, this will allow you to identify the latitude of the sunspot at any time of year.

Live Image from SOHO

Active Areas or Sunspot groups (g)

This is a count of all the active areas on the disk, if there is a sunspot, however small, this is an active area (group) if sunspots are separated by at least 10° then they are separate active areas, a large spread out area is still considered a single AA unless there are clear centres of activity within the larger area, then they are counted separately.

Relative Sunspot Number (R)

To find the Relative Sunspot Number count all the individual sun spots call this number, f, then the relative sun spot number, R = (10 x g) + f

Example: 3 active areas, 35 spots, R=(10×3) +35 = 65 (no other spots on disk)

Reporting

Regardless how infrequent your observing the BAA Solar Section are happy to receive your observations, these can be in the form of images, drawings and monthly reports.

Useful Filters

The Sun can be observed through different filters and these have advantage and disadvantages, please speak to other Members of the Society or the BAA Solar Section for detailed information.

Baader Solar Safety Film – White light filter, very cheap but effective full apature filter, turns any telescope into a solar telescope.
Herschel Wedge – White light Filter, very expensive but Members tend to get better results with these than with solar safety film.
Solar Continuum Filter – Only for use with a Herschel wedge or Solar Safety film, increases the contrast of surface features.
Hydrogen Alpha Solar Scopes – Many makes of these available, they are very expensive (~£600 for the cheapest) but will enable you to see solar flares and other features not visible with white light.
CaK Solar Scopes – Many makes of these available, they are very expensive (~£600 for the cheapest) but will enable you to image solar flares and other features not visible with white light, not suitable for visual observations.

 

 

 

Unusual Sunspot AR3088 – 26th August 2022 by Simon Dawes

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY. Please click here for solar observing safely.

On the morning of the 26th August 2022 member Simon Dawes imaged 3 of the sunspots on the sun – AR3086. AR3088 and AR3089 and superb images they are too.  Sunspot AR3088 however looked a little bit different from the usual sunspots seen and indeed it was according to Spaceweather.com – see below.

Details of how Simon acquired the images are on each photo.

Unusual sunspot AR3088

Screen shot from Spaceweather.com explaining why sunspot AR3088 looks unusual….

https://www.spaceweather.com/archive.php?view=1&day=25&month=08&year=2022

 

Sunspot AR3089

 

Sunspot AR3086

The Sun – 22nd August 2022

Our sun on the 22nd Aug 2022 imaged by member Simon Dawes. Despite seeing being very poor that morning; a great image was achieved by Simon showing an active sun. Details of how Simon acquired the images are on the main photo.

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY. Please click here for solar observing safely.

Sunspot AR3085

Sunspot AR3081

 

 

The Sun – 15th July 2022

More super images of the Sun by member Simon Dawes taken on the 15th July 2022 showing the Sun speckled with sunspots.  Details of how Simon took the images are on the pictures.

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY. Please click here for solar observing safely.

Sunspots at Sundown – 13th July 2022

Whist waiting for the Moon to rise on the 13th July 2022 members Honor Wheeler and Jim Burchell photographed the Sun as it set with just their cameras.  When they looked at their images they saw that they had captured some of the massive sunspots on the Sun that day too in their photos.  In both images you can see sunspot AR3055 bottom middle right and sunspot AR3057 top left on the Sun.  In Honor’s image you can also see Sunspot AR3053 middle right too.

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY. Please click here for solar observing safely.

Honor Wheeler’s image

Jim Burchell’s image

Active Sun – 11th July 2022

Member Simon Dawes imaged our Sun on the morning of the 11th July 2022 and as you can see the Sun is very active.  Details of how Simon acquired the images are on the photos.

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY. Please click here for solar observing safely.

Sunspot AR3053

Sunspot AR3055 – stretching more than 100,000 km from end to end with more than a dozen dark cores.  Simon said ‘AR3055 its seems to be getting longer as I couldn’t get it in the frame so had to do a composite.’

Sunspot AR3056

New Sunspot – this new active region was just peeping round the limb of the Sun on the 11th July. Now Sunspot AR3057

 

Making a Hi-Res Solar Telescope

Simon modified a cheap, old and unused telescope with significant chromatic aberration into a super high resolution Solar telescope, his video below explains how he did it. 

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Image taken with Simon’s hi-res Solar Telescope.

The Sun by Simon Dawes – 10th July 2022

Member Simon Dawes captured some superb images of the Sun this morning. The Sun is quite active at the moment with several sunspots.

Details of how Simon took the images are on the photos.

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY. Please click here for solar observing safely.

Making a Solar Filter for my Skywatcher 190MN

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY. Please click here for solar observing safely.

My Skywatcher 190MN telescope has a very wide field of view I can easily fit the full Moon or Sun on the chip, so I thought I’d get myself some Baader solar Safety Film and make myself a solar filter – the video below shows how i made it and shows some early results. Check-out our solar section for more images.

The Sun

The Sun on the 14th May 2022 taken by member & trustee Simon Dawes. 

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY. Please click here for solar observing safely.

The Sun – 8th & 9th May 2022 by Simon Dawes

Two more great images of our Sun on the 8th & 9th May 2022 by Simon Dawes and now up to Sunspot number AR3007.  

Sunspot AR3006 however is behaving a bit odd as described on Spaceweather.com  ”A MIXED-UP SUNSPOT: Sunspot AR3006 is having an identity crisis. It is supposed to have a +/- magnetic field. Mostly it does. But deep inside the sunspot’s primary core, the polarity is opposite: -/+…………….The mixture of magnetic polarities makes this sunspot interesting and dangerous. When opposite polarities bump together, it can light the fuse of magnetic reconnection–the explosive power source of solar flares. If AR3006 flares today, it will be geoeffective. The sunspot is directly facing Earth.

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY. Please click here for solar observing safely.

The Sun 8th May 2022

The Sun 9th May 2022

 

The Sun – 6th May 2022

The latest image of the Sun taken by Simon Dawes. 

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY. Please click here for solar observing safely.

The Sun by Simon Dawes

The Sun on the 30th April 2022 taken by Simon Dawes.  As you can see the Sun was still ‘active’ re sunspots on that day.

As of today (5th May) we are now up to AR3006 and in the past 24 hours sunspot AR3004 has produced over 18 solar flares (15+ C-class flares and 3 M-flares). 

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY. Please click here for solar observing safely.

The Sun on the 30th April 2022

Sunspots AR2993 & AR2994 by Kevin Langford

Superb close up of Sunspots AR2993 & AR2994 captured by member Kevin Langford on the 24th April 2022 using ASI385mc, SW 130 Reflector on a SW Adventure tracker mount. Using SharpCap, Autostakkert 2 and PS.

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY. Please click here for solar observing safely.

Spotty Sun

More sunspots!!!!

Now up to AR2999 and counting as there is now a new very active region of sunspots appearing on the Sun as of today which have yet to be given an AR number. 

This new source of solar activity has so far been of C-class explosions which have in the past 24 hours hurled at least two CMEs into space. We (Earth) are not yet in the line of fire but as the active region rotates toward facing our planet things could change……

Simon Dawes captured these 2 white light image of the Sun on the 24th & 26th April 2022.

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY. Please click here for solar observing safely.

The Sun on the 24th April 2022

The Sun on the 26th April 2022

Active Sun

And they keep coming………more sunspots appearing on the Sun as captured by Simon Dawes on the 23rd April 2022.  Now up to sunspot AR 2996 on Simon’s image below but as of 24th April – sunspot AR 2997 has put in an appearance.

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY. Please click here for solar observing safely.

The Sun by Simon Dawes

Nice to see some sunspots on the Sun and there are quite a few visible at the moment as Simon Dawes shows in his recent images taken of the Sun on the 20th & 21st April 2022.  NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY. Please click here for solar observing safely. 

Sunspot complex AR2993-94 is crackling away with M-class solar flares and did directly face Earth a day later. They are ‘big’ sunspots too.  The two dark cores are as large as Earth and a magnetic filament attached to one of the cores is more than 100,000 km long.

Sun on 20th April 2022

Sun on 21st April 2022

Sunspots are caused by magnetic disruptions of the visible photosphere of the sun which exposes the relatively cooler layers underneath – appearing as a black spot. 

The sun’s magnetic entanglements and disentanglement happen in 11-year cycles with each solar cycle having phases of low and high activity. Solar activity cycles have been numbered since 1775, when extensive recording of sunspot activity began.

We are currently in Solar Cycle 25, which has yet to reach its peak. The current cycle is expected to reach its maximum activity in late 2024 or early 2025, this means we may see more and bigger sunspots.

The Sun – 3rd April 2022

A superb image of an ‘active’ Sun by Simon Dawes taken from Bexleyheath. Details of how Simon took the photo are on the image.

The Sun – 25th March 2022

A lovely image of the Sun showing 3 sunspots taken by Simon Dawes on the morning of the 25th March 2022 from Bexleyheath. Details of how Simon acquired the image is on the photo.

 

The Sun – 23rd March 2022

Another great image of the Sun by Simon Dawes taken today from Bexleyheath. Details of how the image was acquired is written on the photo. Three sunspot groups are visible.

The Sun – 18th March 2022

A very nice image of the Sun with sun spots taken by Simon Dawes on the morning of the 18th March 2022 from Bexleyheath. Taken using a Baader solar safety filter, skywatcher 190mn telescope, ZWO ASI1600mm pro CMOS camera, mesu e200 MkII mount and sharpcap pro image capture software.

Solar Images By Leigh Slomer

The Sun in H-Alpha 1st attempt with ZWO ASI174MM

Taken on the 8th of June with a Daystar Solar Scout SS60-DS and a ZWO ASI174MM camera. My 1st proper attempt at imaging the sun in H-Alpha.

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Taken on the 16th of July with a Daystar Solar Scout SS60-DS and a ZWO ASI174MM camera.

Sun spots! 2020-12-27

Images by Honor Wheeler

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Image by Honor Wheeler Skywatcher ED80 refractor, Canon M6 Mark2 camera. EQ3 synscan mount. For the full disc I used a x2 Barlow and the close up x5 Barlow. Processed using PIPP, AS!3 & PShop elements6. I could have done better but didn’t have clear skies really for long enough and at the moment the sun is so darn low! Anyway happy to get these.

20201227_1127UT_HW

Image by Honor Wheeler Skywatcher ED80 refractor, Canon M6 Mark2 camera. EQ3 synscan mount. For the full disc I used a x2 Barlow and the close up x5 Barlow. Processed using PIPP, AS!3 & PShop elements6. I could have done better but didn’t have clear skies really for long enough and at the moment the sun is so darn low! Anyway happy to get these.

ISS transit of the Sun

Honor recently took this video of a transit of the Sun by the ISS, something she has been attempting for 10 years.

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Image by Honor Wheeler This was taken using: Skywatcher ED80 refractor Canon 700D set in movie mode @50fps 2x Barlow EQ3 mount Date 2020.04.20 13:09UTC Transit time was 0.9 sec 16 frames extracted from the original video using PIPP and then the layers merged in Photoshop elements 6. Additional processing also done in Photoshop E6.

Cycle 25 Sun Spots

After checking out spaceweather.com for any astronomy updates yesterday, Honor couldn’t believe the Sun had finally got some sunspots. Being up early anyway to walk her Mum’s dog, she got home and got her ED80 refractor set up on an EQ3 and took some photo’s. 
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Transit of Mercury, 11th November 2019

Despite the poor weather our members were out in force observing the transit of Mercury across the face of the Sun, something that has to be done carefully to be safe.

There were 8 members and 4 visitors at the Observatory with a variety of ‘scopes . Rita and Honor also had their PST’s on hand. Other members observed at their homes or online.

TransitofMercury-MR

White light photo by Mike Rushton taken 14:50 on 11/11/19. C8 with f/6.3 focal reducer on HEQ5 Pro. Full aperture glass solar filter Canon 60D at prime focus ISO 1600, Exp 1/400 sec.

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Image by Janice McClean

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Image by Martin Crow 2019-11-11 14:53UT Ha Image

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Image by Honor Wheeler in White Light

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Image of the Transit of Mercury 11/11/2019 by Richard Bohner

Solar Observing at Hall Place Summer 2019

A big thanks to everyone who supported both of the recent Hall Place Solar Observing events which were an exciting mixture of hide and seek as far as the sun was concerned, but both in their own way very successful.

We had sideways rain at 1100 yesterday (18th August 2019), so we set displays up indoors for about half an hour, after which we relocated outside and never looked back.

Even the sun cream got an airing!

It was very encouraging to meet a couple of extremely bright 8 year olds asking / answering some great questions – future members I’m sure.

These things don’t happen by accident so for anyone who supported the two events with equipment, transport, setting up or engaging with the public, a huge thank you.

We will be back in the Winter for the pre- and post- Christmas Stargazing events and should consider any suggestions / fresh ideas to make these as engaging and informative as possible.

Once again, your support is greatly appreciated.

John (Chair)

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Solar Observing at Hall Place – August 2018

The Society were at Hall Place on Sunday 19 August 2018 showing members of the public the Sun using safe observing techniques and talking to people about Astronomy in general. Whilst there was a fair amount of cloud about and the Sun was playing ‘hide-and-seek’  the day was a massive success.

 

The Society were at Hall Place on Sunday showing members of the public the Sun using safe observing techniques and talking to people about Astronomy in general. Whilst there was a fair amount of cloud about and the Sun was playing ‘hide-and-seek’  the day was a massive success.

 

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All images are copyright. Permission must be sought to from the image owner to the use of any of these images.