Blog Archives

Cambrian Fest 2018

For the ninth straight year, the SJAA hosted a booth, and lots of solar scopes, at San Jose’s District 9 community fair called Celebrate Cambrian. This event took place on Sunday, 26 August 2018.This area of San Jose is known as Cambrian Park, and features the Cambrian Community Center, which is situation on the grounds of the former Camden High School campus. SJAA volunteers maintain a presence at this annual event to contribute back to the community in which our organization has its basecamp at Houge Park.

As a member of this local community, I have spearheaded all of SJAA’s participation in the event. It’s essentially a solar viewing event, so Wolf Witt, our new leader of the Solar Program, again stepped up to help with the event. We showcased three solar scopes, the club’s flagship Lunt 100mm H-alpha scope, a recently donated Lunt 80mm, and Wolf’s personal Celestron. The 80mm rig was outfitted with a Mallincam camera which was wired to an outdoor-rated flat panel display to more easily show visitors what they will see in the eyepiece of the other two scopes.  And finally, we had Wolf’s Lunt 60 on his Celestron NexStar mount.

The sun helped us by hosting a couple of interesting features. There was a fairly large prominence at the four o’clock position which showed up nicely on the monitor and in the eyepiece. The sun also displayed a nice filament across the face of its disk, again easily spotted in the scopes and through the camera.  One of the posters of the sun that we had out there coincidentally

mimicked what we could see in the eyepiece, with the prominence at the 4 o’clock position and the location of the filament.  Talk about cooperation!

We had a great group of volunteers manning the scopes and the booth. Our new social media manager, Jessica Johnson (who recently got SJAA on Instagram!), was doing a great job guiding the visitors through the scopes.

We had another young lady helping all day, a high school student who is in the process of forming a new astronomy club at her school.  We had two more high school students manning the booth and helping kids and their parents learn about ultraviolet light by making bracelets out of UV-sensitive beads.  The beads were a hit, with oohs and ahhs all around once the beads quickly developed color when exposed to sunlight!

Bill Gottlieb also participated, helping explain aspects of what we were viewing.  SJAA President Swami Nigam also paid a visit to ensure things were running smoothly.

Thanks to our volunteers who gave up most of their Sunday to help bring astronomy to the general public. We’ll be out there again next year!

Posted in Blog, Recap, Solar

First Sunday March 1 Solar

Observe The Sun Safely! Never look at the Sun without a proper filter!
Solar Programs are held 1st Sunday of every Month 2:00-4:00 PM at Houge Park weather permitting.
Solar Sunday: In Honor of Leonard Nimoy
Sunspot count 54 (SDIC) C-Class Flare Observed Live in H-Alpha

We talked about Leonard Nimoy at today’s Solar Sunday. There is no doubt that Star Trek is part of the amateur astronomy mind set. The common element of wanting to seek out and explore our universe, and of course imaging life out there is intriguing. And we amateurs get to explore and imagine with our telescopes. Just as appealing – is imagining Gene Roddenberry’s future – where there is no discrimination between a community of planets. Spock’s character brought that universe to life and Leonard Nemoy’s sensibility to the character endeared the minds of a staggering and still growing fan base that started 50 years ago. Many thanks Leonard for ensuring these ideals live long and prosper.


3-1-15Solar 07

Leonard Nimoy 1931 – 2015

3-1-15Solar-Srivastava Sanjaya

Sanjay’s daughter, below, iphoned this pic.

Sunday Solar had about 15 visitors today with many of them observing and talking about the sun for an hour or more. We counted 53 sunspots, 11 filaments (prominences), and limb prominences at moderately high power.  Below are some of the dedicated patrons!

3-1-15Solar 05

Terry K’s grab and go H-Alpha with new Eyepiece:3-1-15Solar 04

Below is Malika C. with her 66mm refractor and eyepiece projection system. An image of the sun is projected onto high quality rear projection HDTV screen material.
3-1-15Solar 03


3-1-15Solar 06

Carl R pointing out Sunspots

For those of use who observed after 3PM in H-Alpha, we got to see plage (chomospheric brightening) around AR-2290 rise and brighten into a conical flare. The event lasted about 20 minutes. AR-2290 was located perfectly near the solar limb. We had begun to noticed that the plage seamed elevated 1-2 Earth diameters above the photosphere. We then noticed it formed a conical shape, brightening, and extending vertically to a height of 5 Earth diameters. AR-2290 has created about a half dozen C-Class flares over the last couple of days (link). This flare below was recorded just hours before our observations:
2290D  Below Wolf W. showing H-Alpha views with his 100mm Lunt.
3-1-15Solar 01
Below (Left) Bob W. at his 80mm Standard Filtered scope. Thanks to Bob – we were able to see the Sunspot AR 2290 at the edge of the solar rim with aid of his green and variable polarizing filters.
3-1-15Solar 02
And above is an image of the sun Bob W. took. Another truly stellar day. Live Long and Prosper and Mag. -26.74 skies!


Posted in Articles, Blog, Solar

First Sunday Jan 4th Solar

Observe The Sun Safely! Never look at the Sun without a proper filter!
Solar Programs are held 1st Sunday of every Month 2:00-4:00 PM at Houge Park weather permitting.
Today January 4, 2015 at 6:36 UTC (04:36 a.m. PST) the Earth was at perihelion, closest to the sun!** Also on this day a sunspot, AR2253, equal in width to the diameter of Jupiter was about smack in the middle for prime-time viewing!! But, alas, a blanket of clouds covered the sky made for a sparse viewing of this celestial culmination of events. Eh – not quite magical. In fact we did not pull out the club’s H-Alpha, though Michael P. had his duel refactor set up, one side a H-Alpha 80, and Carl R. and Bill O had their SCTs. We, and about 10 visitors, did get to see the sunspots, all 78 of them (SIDC)*** and prominences but we had a few problems along the way aside from the clouds. Michael in his zeal to show Carl where he screws on his continuum green filter, screwed up is duel scope alignment. He’s lucky he didn’t loose a binoviewer to the effects of gravity at the scopes’ flip downward. And then Terry K. arrived. Now she correctly decided to not to bother pulling out her scopes but it wasn’t like she had a choice. Her trunk decided to lock along with her car keys inside. Nothing AAA could not handle in under 5 minutes. So even if first Sunday’s show was not entirely skyward we had enough entertainment here on Earth at Houge Park. Here are some pics of the day. And if you have time – Check out Sunspot 2253!! !! !!
Michael Checking out Sunspot with Solar Glasses. The Sun was not bright enough through clouds for 2253 to pop. Look for this behemoth Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday if you got solar glasses and a patch of clear sky.
2015Jan3rd-MichaelBelow Carl and Bill shooting the breeze.
2015Jan3rd-Carl-BillBelow Bill and Wolf – not shooting the breeze at the moment.  2015Jan3rd-Bill-Wolf
**The word perihelion is has Greek roots: peri meaning near and helios meaning sun.
*** SDIC is Solar Influences Data analysis Center.  SDIC is the keeper of the International Sunspot Number. If you write in the comments where the SDIC resides, 1st commenter get a pair of solar glasses free.
****Look for Comet Lovejoy over the couple weeks! Big Hint: Use binoculars and this link:
Posted in Blog, Solar

First Sunday Nov 2nd Solar

Observe The Sun Safely! Never look at the Sun without a proper filter!
Solar Programs are held 1st Sunday of every Month 2:00-4:00 PM at Houge Park weather permitting.
Terrific Folks and a So Long for AR-2192 – See you on the spin around?

Last month the eclipse and sunspot AR-2192 were superb – unlikely but perhaps the sunspot will last a month, long enough to spin back in view. If it does look for it on ~ Nov 18th. Here’s a nice image of today’s sun from the handy site




Solar Sunday Regulars Bill, Kevin, Jack (relaxing), Carl

Solar Sunday saw about 15 folks stop by – Join us next month December 7th (Dec 14th is back up date in case of low sunspot count or weather)
Posted in Blog, Solar

2014 Eclipse Pics: Send Us Yours!

Members – Send us 1 or 2 Eclipse pics

We will Post Below

Send People Shots, Equipment Gear Shots !

Send Eclipse, Sun Spots, and H-Alpha images !

Please send jpg format – [1200 x 675] pixels or smaller to


First Contact Alexey Bobkov:

Alexey BobkovCredit to Glenn Newell BelowPlanetary_Tv1-125s_100iso_1056x704_20141023-14h32m37sCredit to Glenn Newell BelowPlanetary_Tv1-250s_100iso_1024x680_20141023-015Below Image Credit Michael PackerEclipse-2014-packer-006bEclipse-2014-001CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGEEclipse-2014-002

Credit to Frank Geefay for below time lapse.



2014RobertD1BTwo (above and below) Credited to Robert Duvall 2014RobertD2BTwo below images credited to Hsin I Huang

2014Oct_Eclipse_Hsin-I HuangCLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE2014Oct23_Eclipse_Hsin-I HuangCLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE

2014Oct23_Solar Eclipse_8Credit for above and below images: Manoj Koushik 2014Oct23_Solar Eclipse_9smfriedman_shivak2192_final-c113ee9c06da0ceca01e6ae66e346ab04c69c204-s40-c85

AR 2192 NASA Image Click to enlarge

Must see Full Screen! 1 minute video of entire eclipse using 200 HR images

Click icon  lower right for full screen – credit R. Duvall

Posted in Blog, Observing Reports, Solar

1st Sunday Oct 5th Solar

Observe The Sun Safely! Never look at the Sun without a proper filter!
Solar Programs are held 1st Sunday of every Month 2:00-4:00 PM at Houge Park weather permitting.
Click Here For Details

Another SJAA Member goes H-Alpha – 3 major prominences – notable filamentary “proms” – Sunspot Count 106 (NOAA) – unusually good seeing
Please welcome Paul Mancuso to the H-Alpha wave where one casually observes the 4th state of matter. Paul still uses his vintage Questar but he out fitted it with a front and back H-Alpha Filter system. Notable Companies that sell these filter sets are Lunt, Day Star and Coronado. Below is Paul M. with his scope and Michael P. showing off the Magnetic Sun Poster.


Wolf brought his recently acquired 100mm Lunt. Wolf dropped a washer and Terry pulled out her metal detector – no joking! Well OK there was lots of joking. The washer was found under Wolf’s car.
Terry and Bill are Solar Sunday’s regulars as is “Calcium K” Carl. Below is a pic Carl (foreground) Bill (background) and a pic of Terry at her scope with more of today’s visitors. About 20 folks both public and SJAA members stopped by to take a gander at the Sun.
Below is Bill’s scope which showed today’s sunspots. Much thanks to Bill. That’s not him at the scope
Below is another pic of Bill’s scope. That’s not Bill either.
And of course Telescope Fit-it was going on inside. Here are a pics of Dave, Ed, and Phil.
That’s the news from Lake Wobegon. Stay Stellar, stay bright, stay warm and check out the stars at night.
Posted in Blog, Observing Reports, Solar

1st Sunday Sept 7th Solar

Observe The Sun Safely! Never look at the Sun without a proper filter!
Solar Programs are held 1st Sunday of every Month 2:00-4:00 PM at Houge Park weather permitting.
Great Weather, Terrific Scopes and Folks, Spectacular Prominences and 170 Sunspot Count (NOAA) =
Could not ask for More


5 Scopes and 20 Folks at 1st Sunday Solar Observing at Houge

A grab and go spotting scope and Questar scope filled the need to see the plethora of fantastic sunspots and solar faculae today. And 3 H-alpha scopes filled the bill to see a prototypical loop prominence, a 200,000 mile hedge row prom and several tree branching proms.  Here’s a pic of the spots from

Note the white webbing of Solar Faculae around the sunspots. Teruo’s Pentax Spotting scope equipped with a glass filter @30x caught all the major hot regions on today’s Earth facing photosphere.

Below – Paul M. scope caught truly veteran solar views and Wolf W. 100mm catches its first plasma light.
Sola-Sept2014-02 Sola-Sept2014-03

Thanks to our volunteers Terry K, Teruo U., Wolf W., Paul M. and Michael P.. And special thanks to Dave Ittner would helped get the club’s scope set up today and Rob Jaworski for bringing cooler/drinks and also facilitating coverage of our Solar Sunday by a local newspaper.

Posted in Blog, Solar

1st Sunday August 3rd Solar

Observe The Sun Safely! Never look at the Sun without a proper filter!
Solar Programs are held 1st Sunday of every Month 2:00-4:00 PM at Houge Park weather permitting.
We are *finally* past solar max. So is the Sun dead quiet? Not Quite!
Is Summer over as soon as the days get shorter? Nope – the sunshine hums along. It’s even more the case with the solar cycle. Sol Min is 5.5 years away! The sunspot count on the 1st Sunday of August was 158 (NOAA). Plus we had one spectacular prominence which stood out from the others and changed its shape over the course of the party (below are a few pics). Please do note though – as the sun does quiet down – the chance of seeing an active day on the 1st Sunday of every month will wane. So we now have a back-up date of the 2d Sunday for solar viewing. We’ll keep you tuned in through announcements!
2014-08-02Wh9 IMG_4973Ha9Above is how the sun looked over the weekend in standard and H-alpha filters. Thanks to Robert Duvall.
Again, please make a mental note. As the sun does quiet down the chance of seeing an active day on the 1st Sunday of every month will be lower. So we now have a back-up date of the 2d Sunday. We’ll keep you posted for the stellar views!
Posted in Articles, Blog, Solar

1st Sunday July 6th Solar

Observe The Sun Safely! Never look at the Sun without a proper filter!
Solar Programs are held 1st Sunday of every Month 2:00-4:00 PM at Houge Park weather permitting.
“1x” Solar Glasses Visiable Sunspot, Sunspot Count over 200, Plus Spectacular Prominences Equals One Great 4th July Weekend of Solar Observing
Keven Lahey, Robert Duvall, Bill O’Neil, Jeff Gose, Teruo Utsumi, Paul Mancuso and Michael Packer were just some of the folks who hung out at the 1st Sunday of month solar party and this 4th of July Weekend did not disappoint.




photo 4photo 3
Sunspots looked fantastic through solar filtered binoculars.
Don’t not look through your binoculars without proper solar filters – doing so will cause permanent eye damage!
By far the coolest aspect of the solar disc today was the sheer number of sunspots (213 NOAA). Sunspots usually come in pairs and the larger one looked like wings of a butterfly according to Robert D. – or perhaps moth wings that emulated fake eyes to detract prey (Michael P.). What ever your imagination – the detail of the umbra and penumbra was intricate as nature can be (below left image). Another neat detail to be observed was near textbook example of filamentary prominences arcing around one sunspot source. No question here. The focus of these semicircular arcs clearly were spot on the spot that caused them. Can you see which spot we’re talking about in the below right image?

The sun with Standard Solar Filter and H-Alpha (click an image to enlarge).

2014-07-06Wh9 IMG_4785Ha9

Here are more images of the day:


photo 2


Jul6-Solar-05 Jul6-Solar-04






Posted in Blog, Solar

1st Sunday June 1st Solar

Observe The Sun Safely! Never look at the Sun without a proper filter!
Solar Programs are held 1st Sunday of every Month 2:00-4:00 PM at Houge Park weather permitting.

Holy Solar H-Flares!

It was a warm day under the sun but the H-Alpha Solar flares did not disappoint. Here are two exposures taken with a LX5 point and shoot held at the eyepiece:

Click Any Image To Enlarge

 01sunpromSolar   02sunpromsSolar

The H-Flare on the right was a good 200,000 thousand miles high. Sunspot count was in the 50’s.

Terry had her portable H-Alpha and Bill had his C5 along with the club’s scope. Michael brought his 80mm with Herschel Wedge and Narrow Band Green.  Below are two people shots of the day. About a 12 folks stopped by to take a gander.





Posted in Blog, Solar

Astronomy Day at MKL Library

Observe The Sun Safely! Never look at the Sun without a proper filter!
Solar Programs are held 1st Sunday of every Month 2:00-4:00 PM at Houge Park weather permitting.
Astronomy Day A Visual Rock Concert!
1-2014-AstroDayWith A Sunspot number of 123 (NOAA) and several active regions, notably AR2055, 2056 and 2057, El Sol was a plasma rock on a roll during National Astronomy Day 2014.
2014-05-10Wh9 SunSpotcloseup 2014-05-10-3860Ha9
Photo credit Robert Duvall – Thanks Robert!
Click the May 10th Sun images above to enlarge. The H-Alpha Flares – solar prominences – were also putting on a great show. All in all we shared astronomy with about 75 patrons of the library and SJSU Campus.

Enjoy the below pics and much thanks to MLK Library support from Ashour Benjamin, Reed Duong, and Deborah Estreicher. You guys Rocked! And to SJAA Volunteers Marion Barker, Paul Colby, Terry Kahl, Kevin Lahey, Bill ONeil, Michael Packer, and Teruo Utsumi – you all jammed!

Posted in Articles, Blog, Programs, Solar

1st Sunday May 4 Solar

Observe The Sun Safely! Never look at the Sun without a proper filter!
Solar Programs are held 1st Sunday of every Month 2:00-4:00 PM at Houge Park weather permitting.

Wafty | Delicate | Detached prominences today surrounded the solar disc along with one lone stout double helix. And on the solar disc, a plethora of sunspots, 120 NOAA, filled the view.


RobertDuvallMay4SolarRobert Duvall (foreground below) took the above shots with his duel telescope setup. Nice capture – thanks Robert!

An SJAA solar crew of 6 scopes were right on these features with 3 photosphere/sunspot scopes: 127mm SCT, 204mm SCT, 204mm Dobsonian and 3 chromosphere prominence scopes: 40mm, 80mm, 100mm tuned refractors. 
Throughout the observing session we had about 20 people stop by to take a look. All in all a truly stellar California Spring day.
Clear Mag -26.74 Skies  Next weekend, Saturday May 10th, SJAA Solar Scopes will be at the downtown San Jose MLK Public Library from 11:00AM to 2:00PM. Stop on by!
Posted in Blog, Solar

April 6 Solar Sunday

Observe The Sun Safely! Never look at the Sun without a proper filter!
Solar Programs are held 1st Sunday of every Month 2:00-4:00 PM at Houge Park weather permitting.
We had a nice relaxing day of observing the sun at Houge after a very successful Earth Day solar program. One killer flare extending about 200,000 miles (25 Earth diameters) from the solar disc and a sunspot count of 172 (NOAA) made the day. About 10 folks stopped by throughout the session and one member George (who Dave sent by) and I had a nice discussion on solar filters.
Standard Solar filters for refractors, SCT, Dobs, and Newtonians can be bought direct from manufacturers like Orion Telescopes, 1000 Oaks, and Baader Planetarium. The performance difference is small between these filters and there are advantages and disadvantages such as hard glass or film (which has the consistency of a plastic foil).
Cloudy Nights has some reviews on these various filters. If you have a refractor another option is a Herschel wedge. It is a right angle prism adapter that attaches to the back of your refractor. Note: A Herschel wedge is not to be used with other type telescopes. Both Lunt and Baader sell these special prism devices pictured below.
The Baader wedge (above right) has a diffuser screen on back that can help centering the sun in the eyepiece. However it is more expensive than the Lunt (left). A neutral density filter (sometimes called a moon filter) or green filter can be threaded onto the above systems or screwed on to your favorite eyepiece to help contrast. A green filter that does a better job of delivering contrast is the Narrowband Baader Continuum (below) that also attaches to back of an eyepiece or back of a threaded 2 inch to 1.25 inch adapter. It also must not be used alone but with proper solar filter. It is a true narrowband green filter featuring 10nm half-bandwidth (HBW) at the passband of 540nm while giving very good spectral transmission (See graph below). The 2-inch filter is shown below but it also comes as a 1.25. It can be used with standard solar filters that attach to front of scope or a Hershel wedge attached to the back of a refractor. It can make photosphere detail like faculae and solar granularity (solar granulation is most contrasty around 540nm) pop a bit more. I enjoy my 80mm refractor with a Hershel wedge and this continuum filter but like with all amateur astronomy – aperture rules. A 10 inch scope cracks common sunspots open along with intricate detail of penumbra webbing as well as showing faculae and solar granulation.
Narrowband Continuum Filter pictured above can help contrast. It must not be used alone but be used with a standard solar filter mounting over front aperture of scope or in conjunction with a Hershel Wedge attached to the back of a refractor.
Posted in Articles, Education & Reference Info, Solar

Cupertino Earth Day a Big Success

Cupertino Earth Day a Big Success

Terrific weather, super sunspots, fabulous H-Alpha flares and a great crowd made the Cupertino Earth Day an outreach success for SJAA. We showed views of the sun and talked about astronomy to some 200 – 300 people both large and small. It would not of happened if we did not have a stellar volunteer crew. See below pics which tell the story of the day!


Above are shots of veteran sun lover Terry Kahl. In the middle image you see her front side with the club’s 100mm H-Alpha and an 8-inch Schmidt Cassegrain in the back – providing real time views of the sun via a video camera set up. Just to the right of Terry you see her highly portable (and more affordable) H-Alpha scope; the far right image shows a girl looking through the it.


Above, Bill O’Neil is in the foreground with his nicely portable 5-inch scope and Marion Barker is in background showing what folks are seeing and how we amateur astronomers view the sun.


Above Teruo Utsumi explains to kids prominences (solar flares) at the club’s 100m H-Alpha scope.


Kevin Lahey at his 10-inch dobsonian sunspot killer. A scope this size shows the intricate penumbra webbing of sunspots in stunning detail. See below image at left. You can click the image for higher resolution image.


Above is what the sun looked like today with a standard filter (left) showing photosphere with sunspots and H-Alpha filter (right) showing prominences or h-alpha flares. With the number of sunspots today at 174 (NOAA) we had a very active sun to show the public! Again, you can click image for higher resolution image.


Paul Colby above left, is showing his video views of the sun along with Marion Barker. This allows them to better point out and explain features of the Sun along side the public.


Above astronomers…Just kidding! Above is a beautiful Eastern dance shared on this Earth Day from the south bay community. Earth Day is about celebrating and protecting our planet – the coolest planet in the solar system! 


Electric bicycles go a long way in protecting our planet and keeping us healthy.


Marion above showing and explaining live video image of sun – how easy and cool is that?


Above, nice shot of Bill talking with a visitor at our booth.


Kevin at is scope. It looks like he showing the trees with the reflection off his huge solar filter but rest assured that person is getting a killer view of the over 170 sunspots on the solar disc.


At night, astronomers sometimes have a run in with mountain lions but this one is at peace – really at peace as it is a display (not alive) to talk to USA’s future adults about protecting these magnificent cats of the night.


Above, learning how to make your own greeting cards form materials you likely already have at home.


Above, kid art!


Above, Teruo manning the SJAA solar scope.


Another shot of Bill O’Niel


Kevin at scope talking with a family.

Earth Day Festival, Cupertino, SJAA Solar Viewing, 2014/04/05

Above foreground is yours truly Michael Packer – SJAA Solar Program coordinator and lover of everything sun! Thanks to all the volunteers above for a stellar SJAA outreach day. We handed out over 80 SJAA brochures and over 30 International Dark Sky Association brochures – info on protecting our night skies!

Observe The Sun Safely! Never look at the Sun without a proper filter!
Solar Programs are held 1st Sunday of every Month 2:00-4:00 PM at Houge Park weather permitting.
Posted in Blog, Solar

Sol Saturday @ Campbell Park

Observe The Sun Safely – Never look at the Sun without a proper filter!
Solar Programs are held 1st Sunday of every Month 2:00-4:00 PM at Houge Park  weather permitting
Some SJAA solar folks decided to share some solar views on Saturday July 25th at a new spot – Campbell Park. The beautiful park is not only located near bustling Campbell Ave, it lies along the Los Gatos Creek Trail and so gets a steady stream of passers-by. Not unexpectedly parking is a bit harder to find but we had a good 75 kids and adults stop by and take a look.
It’s hard to tell but Terry Kahl is behind that hat showing the sun in her highly portable H-Alpha
20140125_142912       The above pic is where we staked our spot. Terry’s looking at the camera and Michael Packer is taking a look through her scope. Kevin Lahey can’t often observe on Sunday so this was a treat for him and the public to look through his 10-inch canon of a scope equipped with a filter:
KevThis scope details sunspots something wicked and the number of active regions on Saturday did not disappoint with 150 total (NOAA):
These spots were definitiviely interesting in a grab and go scope such as Bill O’Neil’s C5 (below). Much thanks goes to Bill for also bringing an excellent NASA poster of sun mounted to an easle. This really helped the public/kids get what they were viewing in all the scopes.
BillKev Though parking was a bit of an issue at Campbell Park, sharing the views with trail and park goers more than made up for the little extra work and we’re open to observe here again. Stellar cheers and mag. -26.74.
Posted in Blog, Solar

Jan 5th Solar Sunday

Observe The Sun Safely! Never look at the Sun without a proper filter!
Solar Programs are held 1st Sunday of every Month 2:00-4:00 PM at Houge Park weather permitting.
Two Thumbs Up!
Solar Observing January 5th
SJAA and Public checking out the Sun.
Thanks to Terry Kahl, Bill O’Neil, and Teruo Utsumi for setting up gear.  It was also nice to meet up with folks from The Villages Astronomy Club, recent member Ashref, also Mark Farley, Mikhail, Alena and the some 50 plus public/astro folks who stopped by.
There was a huge Sunspot on El Sol this Sunday visible with just a pair of Solar Glasses. Under the telescope it was exposed as a huge network of spots around 2 massive spots – each showing intricate penumbral detail:
This Sunspot group is the origin of the recent flare reports or CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) reports that have made the news. H-Alpha View did not disappoint as seen here by pic from Robert Duvall. Look at the huge vortex flow around the largest sunspot. Prominences or H-Alpha flares emanating from this region can be seen in the image as filaments or cloudy looking wisps:
Two thumbs up indeed! Clear  Mag -26.74 New Year Skies.
Posted in Articles, Blog, Solar

Last Sun 2013 – Stellar!

Observe The Sun Safely! Never look at the Sun without a proper filter!
Solar Programs are held 1st Sunday of every Month 2:00-4:00 PM at Houge Park  weather permitting.

And it should look stellar on the 1st of 2014 too!

No solar scope? Join us Sunday Jan 5th at Houge Park 2-4PM!

Beautiful splatter of Sunspots – larger ones with webs of penumbra (SN 93 NOAA), plage and faculae. And H-alpha highlight was massive detached prominence – 20 Earth diam long 15 high! 

Click Image to Enlarge: Left –; Right – M. Packer LX5 250sec, f/2.0, ISO 125 color shifted and sharpened to look neat.


Posted in Blog, Solar

1st Sunday Solar Observing + ISON Is Dust

Observe The Sun Safely! Never look at the Sun without a proper filter!
Solar Programs are held 1st Sunday of every Month 2:00-4:00 PM at Houge Park  weather permitting.

Knowing the Sun just sucked in Comet ISON, chewed it into a Thanksgiving gravy of dirty ice melt clods and spat it out into a field of dust offered a little more respectable view of the El Sol than usual. And the Sun did deliver. Click images to enlarge:


ISON gravitationally sucked in and spat out into 100’s of thousands of miles of dust.

Sunspots Dec 2d 2013 - note spot at left edge

Sunspots Dec 2d 2013 – note spot at left edge

The Sunspot count was 104 (NOAA) in a smashing array with a large lone one at the edge exhibiting the Wilson Effect (the spot appears as a slight depression or cavity). The seeing was particularly fair this session and my personal 80mm Refractor with a Hershel Wedge and Continuum Filter showed the solar granularity beautifully as well as plage and faculae. Solar Prominences or H-Alpha Flares were particularly nice with a not-to-often seen Helix Prominence.

We had a small but dedicated crowd for this solar party – impressive because of the “Black Friday”-Thanksgiving-Football-Weekend. Susan and Bill O’Neil showed up with their C5 scope. New member Paul Summers showed up and took some images, along with member Dwight Shackelford, and Santa Cruz Astronomy Club President Jeff Gose. And of course we had members of the public deliberately stop by – or stroll up on their visit to Houge Park. Finally Solar veteran Terry Kahl stopped by for the fix it day. She reported a huge 1x power sunspot and huge prom just a few days ago. A perfect example of why El Sol is so dynamically hot to check out everyday now.


Bill and Susan Showing the Sun with a Standard Filter on a C5


Paul Summers Showing Sun in H-Alpha


Paul had a knack for showing sun to children

Clear Mag -27.64 Skies!

Posted in Blog, Solar

1X Sunspot

Nice But hard to see 1x Power Sunspot

through weekend for those who still have their eclipse or Venus Transit Solar Glasses

– Never look @ Sun without approved filter –

In a small scope with filter be prepared for WOW!

as this image shows



Posted in Articles, Blog, Solar

Sundog Sun!

Observe The Sun Safely – Never look at the Sun without a proper filter!
Solar Programs are held 1st Sunday of every Month 2:00-4:00 PM at Houge Park  weather permitting.

November First Sunday Solar Observing

Sun Dogs and Prominences – WOW!

Seeing prominences (H-Alpha flares) and sun-dogs (ie not a rainbow but an ice-crystal-bow) on the same day is very California. It’s like skiing and hitting the beach on the same day! I didn’t bother to check the weather for Solar Observing Sunday and that turned out to be a good thing!

It’s California after all and El Sol is cookin’ right now.  Any any chance to see the Sun’s atmospheric layers and its dynamics during this max is time well spent. I have to remind myself that, prior to the H-Alpha Scope, folks traveled the world to catch a ~3 minute total eclipse glimpse at prominences. Needless to say I was the only scope at Houge Park but not the only observer.  We had a couple Parent-kids show up and SJAA members Mikhail, Alena and Chris.

To be frank most of the 1st hour was poor viewing. We did see the current major sunspots groups every so often through the cloud layer and through H-Alpha filter  – which is not the best instrument to observe sunspots.


We then managed to pick out a few nice prominences around the solar disc. But around 2:45 as the cloud layer lifted just a bit more, we got a fantastic Sun-dog show complete with left – right dogs and connecting icebow. Mikhail took a photo of it and here it is:

Click Image To EnlargeMiks-Sundog

You can search Wikipedia for Sun-dogs but here is a nice pic of the effect by Thompson Higher Ed:

Sundog Graphic

Posted in Blog, Solar