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Solar Imaging from the Backyard

2012 March 30
by Russ

It is possible to take useful images of the Sun with modest equipment from a simple backyard location.

This past Saturday, after counting sunspots and sunspot groups visually, I hooked up a  Meade LPI webcam to the telescope to record a  sunspot group associated with NOAA Active Region 11445AR 11445 was just rotating into view from the Sun’s southeast limb.

The top  image is from my small (150mm)  reflector telescope. The telescope mount does not have a drive to turn the telescope in synch with the Earth’s rotation,  so the Sun’s image drifted through the field of view while I captured a stream of images as video sequence. I used the free Registax software to align, stack, and slightly process twenty-one of the best images from the video sequence.  The dark smudge under the sunspots was caused by a large fleck of dust inside the imaging device.

For comparison,  the bottom image shows the same area of the Sun taken at exactly the same time by NASA’s orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory.   Both images were taken on March 25, 2012, at 16:35:34 UT.

 

This is my solar observing rig.   It consists of a 150mm f/9 Newtonian reflector, an Orion full aperture solar filter, and a Meade LPI webcam.  The telescope aperture is stopped to 80mm by a piece of black felt with a circular cut-out on the inside of the solar filter.  The LPI images are captured as a video stream on a netboook computer using K3CCD Tools. The netbook is just barely visible on the table beside the telescope.

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