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What does the sun actually look like through a telescope?


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I really enjoy observing the sun in white light. I have one of the filters in your link and I’ve also made my own using a sheet of Baader film. I also discovered that my 10yr old daughter does too. I’d say she enjoys it more or as much as DSO, but then we live in Bortle 7.

I only got a filter in order to see the partial eclipse. After all, I thought, sunspots are just spots and can’t be worth the effort. However, I was wrong. If you get a nice set of spots with decent seeing the spots almost seem to be alive. There’s also a kind of 3D effect (not sure how else to describe it) which you don’t appreciate  in white light images. There are also other subtle surface details.

I haven’t got a green filter nor a Continuum filter (although will probably get one). However, the light pollution filter that I purchased ages ago and decided was virtually useless for some reason brings out solar features and improves contrast - I haven’t  a clue why!

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I also made my own filter with baader film similar to the one in your link.  Yes you will definitely be able to see sun spots, but I’ve never really seen any other activity.

Here’s an image I took recently and this is a pretty representative example in my opinion.

10 inch dob, iphone held up to eyepiece.

 

 

EA08DED7-326B-43BE-84C5-0964C69D9603.jpeg

Edited by TheycallmeRiver
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It very much depends on focal length, aperture and seeing. I observe the sun daily (weather permitting) using a Galilean type telescope and image it using a SkyWatcher Esprit 150ED @ native focal length (1050mm). With those two scopes the sunspots are small as shown by @TheycallmeRiver, granulation is only marginally visible with the Esprit and sometimes details within the umbra show. I also regularly observe the Sun using a Celestron C11 EdgeHD, Baader ND5.0 foil filter and a Polaroid filter. When seeing permits, one can see granulation and details within the umbra and penumbra. For the C11 I normally use a TeleVue 41mm Panoptic eyepiece, which gives a full disc view with much more detail than the image shown by @TheycallmeRiver. Under good conditions I use a Ethos 21mm or 17mm eyepiece to see more detail. When seeing is poor, the C11 is best left at piece, it performs much less than the other scopes.

If you want to prominences a H-alpha set-up is required.

Nicolàs

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If seeing is good you can see plenty of detail in large sunspots. The darker region of the sunspot is the umbra and the greyer area surrounding the umbra is the penumbra. It’s possible to see striations and filaments in the penumbra in good seeing. The activity is “still” however but does change from hour to hour. If you monitor sunspots over days you’ll notice quite a lot of change from the sun’s activity and its rotation. 

I use a specialist solar wedge and a green continuum filter which I find brings out the detail a lot more than without one, especially the lighter contrasting areas called the faculae.

Heres an unprocessed image straight from the eyepiece on my phone and a mono shot I’ve run through Adobe. I must say that the sharpness you see is better than the unprocessed version which at times can be astonishing clear.

I love white light solar viewing, what’s not to like about astronomy in the sun and warmth! 

 

FEF92FB3-27D3-45C3-BF3F-B85B9F993930.jpeg

95DBA1FD-CF09-4210-8772-CA6AA845F42B.jpeg

Edited by IB20
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Whilst a lot depends on the scope you intend to use it, from my experience I would agree with what @IB20 has said. Which scope do you have?

I too use a Herschel Wedge rather than film which does give a better image, but still, Baader astrosolar film is very good and should show you detail in the active regions, faculae around the limb and granulation when the seeing is good.

Single shot images that are posted on here (including my own) are much less sharp than the views through my 4” apo/Herschel Wedge. The added bonus is that the Sun has woken up from its recent minimum and is now showing very regular sunspot activity. Normally plenty to see.

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2 hours ago, Stu said:

Whilst a lot depends on the scope you intend to use it, from my experience I would agree with what @IB20 has said. Which scope do you have?

I too use a Herschel Wedge rather than film which does give a better image, but still, Baader astrosolar film is very good and should show you detail in the active regions, faculae around the limb and granulation when the seeing is good.

Single shot images that are posted on here (including my own) are much less sharp than the views through my 4” apo/Herschel Wedge. The added bonus is that the Sun has woken up from its recent minimum and is now showing very regular sunspot activity. Normally plenty to see.

I have a Skywatcher 80ED. 

 

Thanks to everyone for the above input!

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1 hour ago, thesaintishere said:

I have a Skywatcher 80ED. 

 

Thanks to everyone for the above input!

👍 that should give you very decent results.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 1 month later...

Depends on what type of 'scope you have!

If you are purely 'white-light', then there are two ways.

  1. solar projection... the method where the Sun's disc is projected onto sheet of plain paper or card revealing the sunspots or sunspot groups.
  2. eyepiece/visual... this method involves the use of white light filters, (more on filters lower down). You will see the sunspots and faculae.

White-light filter types...

  • The cheapest option is a filter using Baader Safety Solar Film. These can be ready made to fit the aperture of your 'scope, binocluar objective cells or camera lens... or you can make your own if you fancy a bit of DIY. 
    The Sun's disc varies from white to a light pale-blue in colour.
  • Next is silver-black polymer. I have never used this. 
  • SolarLite and Glass. More expensive then the two mentioned types above. The Sun's disc is yellow-orange in colour.

sun_whitelight.jpg.e869de150f53798fc2dd36f56334cdcb.jpg<--- the Sun viewed in white light, (as viewed with solar film).

  

Specialist telescopes/filter types...

  • Hydrogen-alpha [H-alpha]... here you will get to see the sunspots, turbulent surface detail, solar prominances on the Sun's disc or ejecting from the edge.

sun_h-alpha.jpg.3079df4da8d5d2ae8a57d2100bf7525e.jpg<--- the Sun viewed in Hydrogen-alpha.

  • Calcium-K [Ca-K]... the Sun will show many interesting events not only in H-alpha but also in the wavelength of Calcium-K. Because deeper layers of the solar surface are observed in the blue Calcium-K light than in the red H-alpha light, other details emerge in this Ca-K wavelength. But the Ca-K wavelength is at the edge of the visible light spectrum for human eyes. Observers in their younger years can often see numerous things, but with increasing age less and less can be seen in this wavelength.

sun_ca-k.jpg.0f33c39d7622a6d9a7906de95750f1f3.jpg<--- the Sun viewed in Calcium-K

  • Herschel Wedge [aka Solar Wedge]... not really a specialist filter, but is by far one of the 'safest' methods I use for white light viewing of the Sun is with a Herschel Wedge. All brands recommend the use
    of an ND3+ filter be in use if not already pre-installed. When viewed with a solar continuum filter (recommended) in place, the Sun's disc is green in colour. You can also add another ND/polarising filter too
    if you so wish and gives more or less contrast to the Sun's surface detail.

IMG_0675.thumb.JPG.61d0def85db3d5e798128ef6d95d020b.JPG<--- image of my 70mm refractor and Herschel/solar wedge. 

Please note that a Herschel/solar wedge can only be used with most refractor 'scopes that can be readily purchased.
If it is of the Petzval type or has a lot of internal plastics then they a "No!"- you will need a full aperture filter. 

 

To finish...

  • If your 'scope has finder PLEASE remove it or make filter for it too or cap it!
  • Always ensure that your 'scope is not left unattended at all times, (especially where young children are present). 
    If you do happen to leave it unattended, move the OTA away from the Sun's path or where it is likely to move to in the sky.
  • all solar filter types need to be checked for any defects before use - if in doubt, do not use it!

 

and finally...

  • one white-light solar filter to avoid is this type... 

738812906_Screenshot(37).png.f89f51468cec5fa9a157afa9643d8e0b.png

It screws on to thread of the eyepiece or nosepiece of a star diagonal. They are often supplied with 'cheaper' branded telescopes and the concentrated heat will crack the glass of the filter and eyepiece in less than 1 or 2 seconds... and without warning!! [video below by SGL'er @BinocularSky

 

note: The images of the Sun in white light, H-alpha and Ca-K, some of the included text and the attached video is not my work.

Edited by Philip R
video added at the end.
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