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A Practical Guide to Solar Observing and Imaging

Discussion in 'AstronomyConnect Announcements' started by AstronomyConnect, May 4, 2016.

A Practical Guide to Solar Observing and Imaging

Started by AstronomyConnect on May 4, 2016 at 12:50 PM

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  1. AstronomyConnect

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    A Practical Guide to Solar Observing and Imaging
    By: Brian Ventrudo (Contributing Editor, AstronomyConnect.com) and Manish Panjwani (Agena AstroProducts)

    Fig-1-Sun-H-Alpha.jpg

    Astronomy in the daytime? Of course! Solar observing is a fascinating and rewarding branch of amateur astronomy, and with the right equipment and a little know-how, you can examine-- up close-- the dynamic and fascinating face of the Sun. With only a safe solar filter and no other optical aid, you can enjoy rare events like total and partial solar eclipses. And with a solar filter and a small telescope or binoculars, you can see many fascinating and beautiful features on the visible face of the Sun nearly every clear day.

    This series of articles at AstronomyConnect surveys currently available equipment and accessories for safe solar observing, and gives you practical tips and advice to help you get started as a solar observer. As you read through these articles, you will understand how to make sound decisions when choosing and using equipment for observing the Sun. And you will learn:

    • Basic considerations and tips to get started with solar observing
    • How to safely observe the Sun without a telescope
    • The difference between broadband (white light) solar filters and narrowband solar filters such as H-alpha and Ca-K
    • The pros and cons of the types of white-light solar filters on the market today
    • How to match a narrowband solar filter with the right blocking filter for visual use or for imaging
    • What to see on the visible surface of the Sun with white-light solar filters, including sunspots, limb darkening, and faculae
    • Which solar features are visible with narrowband solar filters, including prominences and filaments, spicules, granulation, solar flares, and the chromospheric network
    • Key accessories that make solar observing easier and more rewarding
    • Useful tips on how to image the Sun
    • And a great deal more…

    Click on the links below to open each article on solar observing. New articles will be added each week until the series is complete.




    We welcome input and feedback from all our readers to make these articles a great resource as we draw closer to the Total Solar Eclipse on August 21, 2017.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2016
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  2. AstronomyConnect

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    Our second in a series of articles on hands-on solar astronomy takes you through the three main approaches to safely seeing the Sun: filtered naked-eyed observation, solar image projection with a telescope, and filtered observation with white-light or narrowband solar filters with a telescope. Every amateur astronomer needs these three basic techniques in their toolkit. Click here to read the article: Three Ways to Safely Observe the Sun.
     
  3. AstronomyConnect

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    In our third article of the series, you get an in-depth look at white-light solar filters. These filters let you safely observe the brilliant broadband light coming from the Sun’s photosphere, the thin outer layer of the Sun where light emerges from the denser, hotter layers below. With white-light solar filters, you can see the detailed regions around sunspots, solar granulation, and the dramatic limb darkening around the visible edge of the Sun.
    Click here to read the article: A Guide to White Light Solar Filters
     
  4. jgroub

    jgroub Well-Known Member

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    Do you guys have any thoughts about the Baader Solar Continuum Filter? Apparently, from the writeups, it's supposed to accomplish something similar to what the Herschel Wedge does - increased detail in granulation and faculae on the surface. (Of course, you need a primary solar filter first before using the Continuum.)

    I'm interested in this, because frankly, I find white light solar observing to be boring. After looking at the sunspots for about 30 seconds, there isn't anything else to see. I also find the pattern of the sunspots to be relatively uninteresting - more like a Rorschach test than anything else. And I find that the heat of the sun creates its own bad seeing, such that any further detail beyond the sunspots is "naturally" obscured in white light.

    It seems that either the Wedge or this Continuum filter might help in that department, as there would be more detail to see on the surface, and I'm all for that. Of course, it's also nice that the filter costs significantly less than the wedge; this would be sort of a poor man's H-Alpha for me, although I realize that the two have nothing to do with each other. Can you compare the strengths and benefits of the views in the two different configurations, wedge and filter?
     
  5. Dave In Vermont

    Dave In Vermont Well-Known Member

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    Hi Jon -

    I have one of these Baader filters. I use it occasionally while observing using my ST80 - which is my dedicated Solar-Scope using a white-light full-aperture filter. I can't use it always. There's just so much of it's vicious green-coloration that I can take! I was conversing with the guy who makes the Helio-Pod in Massachusetts, and he tells me he knows about these filters, but never uses one. He just uses a green-filter that are the normal one most of us have in our kits. I tried this myself - up against my Baader one - and I must admit that it came close to the Baader Solar Continuum-Filter.

    What I found was that the Baader does tease-out a bit more granulation on the Sun's surface. Not enough to knock me over - just a bit more detail.

    Sorry to say but I've no Herschel Wedge to offer a comparison.

    By the way, I'd say to anyone planning to look at our star - the Helio-Pod is an excellent way to put the Sun smack in the center of your eyepiece. Either bought or home-made.

    di-hp2-320b.jpg

    http://www.dynapod.com/dyna-hp1.html

    NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN WITHOUT A SOLAR-FILTER! THROUGH A TELESCOPE, PERMANENT EYE-DAMAGE OR BLINDESS WILL TAKE PLACE WITHIN 1/200 OF A SECOND! YOUR BLINKING-REFLEX WON'T HAPPEN UNTIL 1/20 OF A SECOND! PUT A FILTER ON ANY FINDER YOU MAY HAVE - OR REMOVE IT!

    Have a Sunny Day!


    Dave

    ST80 Helio-Pod Series d.JPG
     
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  6. AstronomyConnect

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    In our fourth article on how to observe the Sun, you discover which features are visible in the Sun’s photosphere. From sunspots and pores to faculae and limb darkening, you can see a great deal on our ever changing home star with a white light solar filter and a telescope.
    Click here to read the article: Observing the Sun with White Light Solar Filters.
     
  7. AstronomyConnect

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    The great total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017 is just over a year away. So now's the time to sharpen your solar observing skills. In this latest installment on how to safely observe the Sun, you learn about hydrogen-alpha solar filters and how they help you get stunning views and images of the Sun's ruby-red chromosphere.
    Click here to read the article: A Guide to Hydrogen-Alpha Solar Filters and Telescopes.
     
  8. AstronomyConnect

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    In our latest article on solar observing, you'll tour towering prominences, delicate spicules, ethereal Ellerman bombs and many other features visible in the Sun's chromosphere with a telescope and a solar H-alpha filter.
    Click here to read the article: Observing the Sun in Hydrogen Alpha.
     
  9. AstronomyConnect

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  10. AstronomyConnect

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    If you're interested in casual observation of the Sun or serious solar observation and imaging, there are a few accessories that make solar astronomy safer, more efficient, and more enjoyable. This article, Accessories for Solar Observing, examines commonly used accessories for observing the Sun in white light or H-alpha.
     

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