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Hi everyone,

So I had been pondering the idea of observing the sun, as to this point all of my telescope observations had been made at night.  My very first instinct was to just get a solar filter for my Celestron 8SE.  I had the presence of mind to do a little research and ask a few questions, and I learned quickly that I could view the white light through the 8SE, and that really the main features I could see would be sunspots and eclipses.  I was told that getting a setup that was made for solar observing in Ha would lead to being able to see more of the details that are so captivating in people's images such as prominences (flares?).


There is my short intro.  After a bit of reading and some research, I made a rather quick decision to get myself a Meade Instruments 0.5PST Coronado H-Alpha Personal Solar Telescope.  I am a bit embarrassed to admit it, but my decision was a bit of a quick one and I hadn't done my full research before ordering everything.  The scope came with a 18mm Plossl EP and can receive 1.25" EPs.  I have a whole set of Explore Scientific EPs I use for nighttime observing.  Will I be able to use these with this new solar scope?  Also, is there any additional equipment that you might recommend to maximize my viewing satisfaction?  Again, this is just for observing, not imaging as of yet.  Thanks for any advice!



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The double stacked PST is a very nice introduction to Ha solar observing... 

Any of your current eyepieces will work with the PST, I actually use a 8-2 mm Zoom for convenience....

You don't mention which mount you will use with the PST.

The only extras I can think of would be a solar shade https://www.stjarnhusetonline.se/magnify/906.1.html , or make one yourself http://www.billsastro.com/Astronomy/ATM/PST Sunshade.htm

The Sun is still pretty quiet at the moment, but there are usually some interesting proms. Check GONG ( http://halpha.nso.edu/  ) daily to see what's happening.



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Ken, thanks so much for the info and the link!  I have been reading in the forums here that a zoom EP is convenient for solar observing.  I may have to invest in one, but I'll first give it a go with what I've got and see the results.  I think I'll get out this morning to give the scope a little first light outing.


I got a standard Meade AZS Mount manual tripod as my current mount.  My night scope has GoTo and tracking, so using the manual tripod is going to be a new experience for me.  I don't have a finder for it either, but I was sort of figuring I would be able to spot the sun without too much work.  Beginner's naivety maybe?  We'll see.

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I also use a zoom eyepiece, certainly very convenient to carry around. When i first bought my old PST, i did try a few different eyepieces and could not see much difference in what was visible through many of them.

It is very quite at the moment, even in H/A unfortunately.

I do love to see a large Sunspot in white light though. So as soon as the activity picks up it will be well worth getting a filter to view them. When the seeing is particularly good its so interesting to see the fine detail in the Umbra and Penumbra. 

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1 hour ago, Hayduke27 said:

... figuring I would be able to spot the sun without too much work.

That’s certainly one’s intuition and you certainly will find it ... but you may be surprised how tricky it can be!

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Thanks @Paul73, I was just looking at zoom EPs and wondering about some recommendations.  Your timing is perfect.


So I just set up the scope in my yard and set to work figuring things out.  Luckily I went ahead and read the instructions before getting to it (I must be getting older and wiser). I was pleasantly surprised to find that the scope has a built-in sun finder, a very handy little accessory if you ask me!  It took me a few tries to get the feel for finding a proper focus and then using the various contrast and anti-reflection knobs, but I soon got the hang of it, and was able to focus and adjust contrast using my 18mm, 8mm, and 4.6mm EPs.  As it's my first day everything is very new and it's a lot to take it, but I can see surface detail and I can also see one little prominence.


This leads me to a very newbie question.  I took a look at the website that @Merlin66 mentions above, and I swear that the prominence that I am seeing is the one in all of the images on the website.  However, in the images the prom is at roughly 8:00 whereas the one I am viewing is almost dead on at 12:00.  I have been pondering this, and it seems to make sense that the "up side" of the sun would differ depending on where you are standing on the planet, but it is one more of those things I had never thought about.  Is this little theory of mine correct?


Thanks for all the info everyone!

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Oh, as another side note...

I had indeed considered the fact that sun spots might be a cool thing to observe using a white light setup, and it seems that in the reading I have done people generally have each setup on hand for different occasions.  Seeing as how it's comparatively very inexpensive to get a solar filter for my 8SE, it would probably make sense to go ahead and do so.

Now for the questions: First, will sun spots be apparent at all with my Ha setup, or are they much more strictly a white light kind of thing?  Secondly, I plan on viewing the upcoming Mercury transit.  Will this be something that will give good views with my Ha setup, or is this another event that might call for a white light rig?

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These are a couple of images from a few years back, of the same active area when activity was plentiful.

White light on the left, H/A on the right.  Much more detailed than you will see through the eyepiece though.


Edited by Pete Presland
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