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Thinking of Trying Solar Imaging...


Hoshikomi
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I've been deep-sky imaging for a few years now and have always had an urge to try solar, but have been reluctant to start because:

1. Not sure what's needed.

2. Whenever I get something for the 'scope, clouds roll-in and I don't want the guilt of ruining everyone's summer.

Notwithstanding #2, if I want to take visible light images with my Esprit 120 and DMK camera, am I correct in assuming all I need is a solar filter for the front?

If I want to image in Ha, do I need a solar Ha filter? (Stephen suggests standard ones aren't up to it here)

Thanks

Geoff

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Hi Geoff,

I think Stephen might have been referring to the Ha filter as in night time Narrowband imaging judging by his comment, so no you cannot use a normal NB filter.

Yes a white light solar filter will get you off to a good start.

With your Esprit 120 & DMK I would not hesitate to go for a Quark Chromosphere in the future if you do like solar.

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A white-light filter made of solar film or a Herschel wedge will work in a refractor. The former is FAR cheaper, so I would start there. H-alpha solar filters are not cheap, especially for a scope your size. The Daystar Quark can be used (with some extra filters), but there are some quality control issues. Solar Spectrum and Daystar Quantum filters are great, but cost an arm and a leg. Alternatively, you could use a front-mounted etalon, but they are very costly. It is probably better going for a special-purpose H-alpha scope.

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re: solar h-alpha, the best bang for buck in my opinion is a Daystar Quark at about £800. If you'd like to do detailed close up shots, you have in my view the almost perfect aperture for it, provided your scope is compatible (I think it is - check with the Quark supplier). Much larger than 120mm and you'd have to buy a front Energy Rejection Filter, which could come close to doubling the overall cost...

If your scope is compatible, you may be okay to use a suitable UV/IR cut filter instead of a standard energy rejection filter, these cost about £60 or so I think. The Quark needs a power supply, you get one with it that plugs into the mains, but I'd recommend a portable battery instead for convenience, mine cost £32 plus about £10 more for a decent long cable.

A 0.5x reducer is also handy, as the Quark has an integrated 4.3x Barlow so will give a long focal length out of the box that would be quite demanding of the seeing. The 0.5x reducer tames it :) I use a £20 reducer, 1.25 inch from Telescope House.

So total cost if you already have the scope and camera is about £900. This is less than a SolarMax 60 would cost and of course you'd have 120mm of aperture! Great for more detailed imaging closer up. The SM60 might be a better choice if you wanted to do full disc imaging in as few tiles as possible, due to its shorter focal length.

If you want to do visual as well, you need some quite long focal length eyepieces (say 20 to 40mm). Daystar recommends Tele Vue Plossls but some folks are very happy with cheaper eyepieces. You would not be able to see the entire solar disc in one go in your 120mm, you need a scope with about 450mm or less focal length for full disc visual. I use a 60mm scope (360mm focal length) with the Quark as grab and go, so do my full disc viewing then. For imaging, I just love using my 120mm at home!

I would not hesitate to buy a Quark from a good retailer. My wife and I have three between us :) Sounds a bit OTT, but we have one each and a shared backup as I would hate to be Quarkless in case mine needed to be sent to Quark hospital one day, and cost of all three was similar to one double-stacked 60mm dedicated h-alpha scope.

That may all sound a little complicated, but it's not. It's a pretty easy setup, there is a useful video here to give you an idea:

I must warn you, solar can get addictive :grin:  Accesories are great: cold drinks, suntan lotion, shades... :laugh:

Edited by Luke
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Oh yes, very addictive. I even skip breakfast to get the best seeing chances. I made a white light solar filter for my 102mm AA EDT from a screwfix 4" drain plug and some Baader film, total cost £25. But then I got this:

post-35542-0-20524800-1434060755_thumb.j

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Oh yes, very addictive. I even skip breakfast to get the best seeing chances. I made a white light solar filter for my 102mm AA EDT from a screwfix 4" drain plug and some Baader film, total cost £25. But then I got this:

attachicon.gifimage.jpg

Interesting observation record on your blackboard there. Do you need a special scope to see those :grin:

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