Monthly Archives: August 2012

SJAA at Cambrian Festival 2012

Observe The Sun SafelyNever 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

A beautiful sunny day at the Celebrate Cambrian Festival brought out lots families to learn about their local community. And the SJAA was proud to be a part of it!

Lots of kids got to see the sun starting with an eyepiece projections system, 


then moving to an amateur scope (with solar filter) to see sunspots in detail,


and then ending with views of H-Alpha flairs, prominences, in the club’s hydrogen alpha telescope.  Lots of “oohs” “aahhs” and “cool” at every station.


And lots of thanks to our volunteers: Tom Sharkey, Teruo Utsumi, Malika Carter, Rob Jaworski, Michael Packer, Bill and Susan O’Neil and Tracy Avent-Costanz. You guys made it happen!

All in all, hundreds of folks easy got to see and learn about astronomy – if not in their own back yard – very close! We hope see see a few of them at Houge Park at upcoming public star party events!

Posted in Blog

It Was Bound To Happen + Sunspots and The Spinning Sun

Observe The Sun SafelyNever 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

The Sun and Saturn – It Was Bound To Happen:

Over the 4th of July I got together with old friends and instead of shooting off fireworks – which btw would get you shot in the Klamath woods of the Siskiyou mountains – I offered viewing the distant fireworks of the Sun in H-Alpha. These friends for the most part were oblivious to the hobby of astronomy – some had never seen Saturn in a scope – which was on the agenda for the night.

On the 4th sunspot activity was good with “1x” visible sunspot group – a smear of spots in between two large spots making a of a very good “face on the Sun”. It looked like the face of a fox to some. (I’d really love to hear the conspiracy theories for this fiery crop circle). Anyway plasma was streaming off the solar limb south of this group in spectacular geometries and other prominences could be seen all around the solar disk. All-in-all it was an average H-alpha day for 2012. But to these folks who had never seen the Sun in H-Alpha it was a mind blowing wicked-sick day.  A couple could not take their eyes off the show and needed to know everything.

pNight came and it was Saturn’s turn. Its rings and moon Titan shinning brightly. Seeing was pretty fair and the best view of the planet through a TV85 was @ 150x using a 4mm Radian. Very decent power for CA.. I don’t have to explain to veterans of this hobby the impression Saturn makes to first timers. However the words did flow – “Wow, OMG, Surreal, get-the-heck-out-of-here and holly <insert expletive>.”

But then I heard it. And the comment was entirely reasonable for a 1st timer to say: “Cool but not quite as cool as the Sun.” It was bound to happen. Personally I have never heard anyone compare Saturn to another planet or DSO with any vigor: Mars, NGC4565, nope. Saturn is in a class all by itself. And to be fair, if the view of Saturn was through a Bill Burton’s 12.5″ with a binoviewer at the Florida WSP (think festoons, Encke, 500x) – well the comparison would never leave a person’s lips…

I don’t think.

The H-Alpha Sun – “it’d be happen, maad and irie mon

The Spin of the Sun – Sunspots appearing and disappearing off face:

On July 6th SJAA member Malika took two excellent shots of sunspot spinning in to and out view. Below are the cools images – which I rotated and doctored a bit to bring detail.

Click one image. When it pops up you can click on thumbnails below it to advance (go back an forth) between the two and see the sunspot appear/disappear at the top and bottom limb. Nice!!!

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Posted in Blog, Solar

The Sun

Useful Solar Links: 

Real Time e-mail Solar Flare Alert:
Everything about the Today’s Sun at a Glance:
Today’s Space Weather with Sunspot Count:
Solar Influences Data Center – SIDC keeper of the International Sunspot Number 
Superb overview of Solar features – a must read:
NOAA Glossary of Solar Terms:
Observing the Sun in H-Alpha – Compiled by David Knisely”:

 Killer Video! – Depth Detail of Umbra & Penumbra with Surrounding Photosphere Granules

Click on image to enlarge:
Posted in Blog, Education & Reference Info

Solar Observing August 5th

Observe The Sun SafelyNever 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

The are a so many objects up in the night sky for amateur astronomers to enjoy, travel to with his/her scope and learn something new. Yet it is the same way with out single star up in the day sky, The solar cycle generates new sunspots and flares of beauty, size and ominous power. Today many of us saw hands-down “thee” longest filament, prominence, h-alpha flare, projected on the solar disk we have ever seen. Winding over the disk of the sun it easily spanned 1/3 of the entire solar face. if the filament was stretched out, it would easily span 1/2 the solar disk or some 50 Earth diameters!

While all of us at Houge were viewing this and thinking about Curiosity’s Landing expected in the evening, SJAA member Malika was actually at JPL enjoying the event and showing sunspots to public. Her Sunspotter eyepiece projection system beautifully captured all 6 major sunspots:

Click on a image to enlarge. Then compare the two by clicking icons at bottom of view screen

MalSunAug1st SunAug5th
Right On!
Posted in Articles, Blog, Education & Reference Info, Solar