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I am looking to venture into this section of the hobby again, having good memories of watching the sunspots with my 50mm Greenkat many years ago, along with the little eyepiece filter that came with the setup. Not at all safe, obviously, but I knew no better, I was very young. I am now about to buy a Lunt Herschel / Solar Wedge, so am going to do it much safer, but I realize that I know little about it to be honest and looked for a decent guide. I could not find one, but did discover this guide on how to make a DIY solar finder:  https://www.skyatnightmagazine.com/advice/how-to-build-a-simple-solar-finder/

I have seen at least one such idea here on this forum. Thing is I do not know enough other things, or how to best go about this new, to me, observing branch. Can anyone please offer me some pointers on how to proceed please? Perhaps tell me about which direction to go in, regarding solar next? It can be very expensive, it seems and I would prefer to avoid too many mistakes. Any recommended reading matter too. I am quite surprised to so no such guide here already. ( Assuming I have not missed it! )

Thanks in anticipation.   :smiley:

Edited by Greymouser
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First of all, welcome to Land Down Under

What sort of scope you have?

Attached pic is of my ED80, with baader solar filter, taken at a recent club solar day

Since then have purchased glass solar filter

If using a dob, the hard plastic cover has a small detachable cap

Sticky tape baader solar film underside, and can view Sol as well

John

 

 

Skywatcher ED80.jpg

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18 minutes ago, cletrac1922 said:

First of all, welcome to Land Down Under

Well, firstly, much as I would indeed like to be living in the land down under, I am in fact in the UK, in Cheshire! 😜

Thank you for the welcome, but I am not new the hobby, ( or this forum, ) just the solar branch, as it were. I started over 40 years ago with a little Greenkat 50mm refractor, which I got an awful lot of use out of, including the solar in eyepiece filter that came with it. It is memories of that which has prompted me to get the Lunt wedge.

I now have several scopes, including that very first one. ( I find it hard to throw optics away. :icon_redface: ) I have a 150P; a 102 ST; a C9.25; a Bresser spotting scope and a C5. The 150P needs to go, as soon as I can persuade myself of the need. I intend to use the wedge on the 102ST for now, until I upgrade to a better ED refractor, maybe. I did consider a Baader solar filter for the C5, but was persuaded by others here, that the wedge is much better. :smiley:

 

Edited by Greymouser
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There are a few books which are useful primers. Two that I have are Observing the Sun: a pocket guide, by J Jenkins andHow to Observe the Sun Safely by Lee  MacDonald.  However neither give much detail on using a Herschel wedge. 

The image through the wedge is very bright and to see detail you will need a filter that will give contrast. I use a Baader Solar continuum filter. Some prefer a polarising filter as the Baader filter gives the Sun a green colour but I also think it shows more detail.

Of course we are now in a period of solar minimum and there have been very few Sunspots to view. This minimum might continue for a while yet so you will have to be patient. As well as sunspots you can also see bright features known as faculae, usually near the solar limb. If the seeing is good it is also possible to see the solar granulation, but this usually takes a bit of experience to achieve.

I eventually took the next step and purchased a dedicated solar Ha scope. This allows you to view the solar chromosphere, the layer above the photosphere you view in WL. There is usually some activity here even when the sun is in its minimum phase. Prominences and filaments are usually viewable. The problem is that this is where solar viewing becomes rather more expensive. Solar scopes and Quark lenses are not cheap, but I think the are worth the money for the extra interesting viewing they allow.

Edited by laudropb
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An ST102 and Lunt wedge will make an excellent combo for white light solar observing. You might want to add a solar continuum filter as this brings out the detail nicely. I've had some success in the past using #56 and / or #58 colour filters but then found the continuum takes things to a new level and have never gone back. The Sun is approaching solar minimum at the moment so spots are few and fairly far between but we do get outbursts of occasional activity. On a good day you will want to have eyepieces available that get you to 100x and it's worth having a cloth / towel or something to put over your head, sounds daft but helps me pick up fine detail when the surroundings are shut out.

Edited by David Smith
Edit: Pretty much what @laudropb said but I had typed it so thought I would post it!
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Hello,

I too want to get into Solar observing. I am thinking of getting a dedicated Celestron Eclipsmart Solar Filter (Solar Film) for my Nexstar 6se.
I hear it's safe, a good fit, reliable, etc... yet still,  I'm a little apprehensive about going for it.

Over 40 years ago, as a 10 -12 yr old kid (I was a lot smarter then) I used to do a lot of Solar observing, often drawing and following Sunspots day by day...  quite fascinating.
I can't remember exactly what my best method was... I rather think projection from the Telescope, and later (to save my scope) an old pair of Binoculars.
I had a 2.5 inch Refractor with a Sun and Moon filter which screwed onto the back of eyepieces.
I'm pretty sure I used the Sun filter once or twice, but quickly realised this little filter was near lethal, given the tremendous heat and focus of light it had to endure (not obvious for a kid to work out).
So fairly quickly I deduced it was a dangerous filter and I had already risked much by using it .. I later took my scope apart and saw much plastic had melted inside, probably from projecting, at that stage.
Very naive, you say, but one must remember these were pre-internet days... and pre-any-kind-of-safety era... Anyway, I soon realised I was playing with fire!! 
The one phrase that echoed endlessly in my head was from the late Sir Patrick Moore who proclaimed it "horribly dangerous to look at the Sun"
(I think his  "Story of Astronomy" was maybe the only Astronomy book I had for years until I got "Astronomy Today" by Fred Hoyle)

Now there are a zillion Books, YouTube clips, Forums, Scopes with Sun warning labels, etc. etc... but good old Sir Patrick probably saved many a person's sight in pre-internet days!
My uncertainty persists: Is this Eclipsmart Filter really 100% safe? Can scratches damage it ?
I will remove the finderscope for safety (and point the scope by minimising its shadow on the ground)..
..but I'm still a bit uncertain about looking through a powerful 6" scope directly at the Sun... Could the filter fall off by accident ? Get knocked of by the dog ?
Will the remote hand control even allow me to look at the Sun ? I guess it will issue warnings at the very least ?

I guess there are many similar posts to mine.. and I'm sure my story is not entirely unique.
So many Stars are so far away ; yet Sol is right next to us... so how can any Astronomer ignore it?
I'm also thinking of using a lesser scope for the task... but if solar filters really block 99.99% of sunlight, how can I possibly damage my Nexstar 6se?

Any comments welcome, and thanks for reading... 
ps. I'm sure my post is full of ignorance... so please be patient!

Ciao, clear skies, happy observing!!
Roland

 

Edited by pandoraefretum
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  • 1 year later...

Quote

 

1 Is this Eclipsmart Filter really 100% safe?
2 Can scratches damage it ?
3 Could the filter fall off by accident ?

4 Get knocked of by the dog ?
5 Will the remote hand control even allow me to look at the Sun ?
6 I guess it will issue warnings at the very least ?

7 So many Stars are so far away ; yet Sol is right next to us... so how can any Astronomer ignore it?
8 I'm also thinking of using a lesser scope for the task... but if solar filters really block 99.99% of sunlight, how can I possibly damage my Nexstar 6se?

 

1. It will be safe if checked for pinholes & other damage before each use.  I’ve found that a modern bright LED bike light can be used to look for “leakage”

2. Yes but I’m sure the film will be double sided so scratches need to be on both sides or of penetrated through.

3. Never say never but the chance of it occurring during an actual observation is very low. When you’re not observing do move the scope well away from where the sun is or will be.

4. I think 3 applies.

5 & 6. By default, yes, there is a block on aligning the Nexstsr scope to the sun.  Easily altered in the HC menu. No warning for the setting change as you’ll be expected to know the result of your actions.

7. I couldn’t ignore the sun or moon as local light pollution makes these easy observations.  I think lots of us fit in solar viewing.

8. It is possible to damage a scope during solar observation.  But simple care and sense removes the risk.  Be alert & don’t be distracted. Keep the filter attached until the scope is pointing well away from the sun.  Move the scope if something else needs your attention.

You’ve mentioned awareness of the finder scope “challenge” so I think you’re all set.

I’ve bumped an old post but I saw some unanswered questions and I’m about to start Eclipsmart solar viewing on my new Nexstsr 8SE

My previous experience is with a Baader solar film homemade card box box filter on a refractor 👍🏻

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I use the Baader Solar Film on my binoculars (it comes with instructions on how to made safe filter holders), only really useful when there are large sunspots to see, and it can still be quite dazzling to the eye, similar to viewing an almost full moon.

I went for the Lunt 60 with Pressure Tuner, an expensive scope for sure considering it only has one possible target but it gives me some great views of solar activity.  I use a Baader Planetarium 8-24 Hyperium Zoom eyepiece, very quickly allows me to zoom into features without faffing with different eyepieces and refocusing (which can be an art form in itself when solar viewing).

Edited by jonathan
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My ready made solar filter arrived so I've some practical feedback for these questions: -

Quote

Will the remote hand control even allow me to look at the Sun ? I guess it will issue warnings at the very least ?

On my Nexstar HC I used the Menu options to remove the block on the Sun as a GoTo target.

Now the Sun can be displayed as a Solar System alignment option AND a sky object.

But each time it is chosen as either, there is a 2nd check to "Enter" through that reminds you of the danger of sun observations.

Edited by kevenh
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