New Solar Observing Program

As mentioned in the blog post looking back at 2011, the Board of the San Jose Astronomical Association, after long and thoughtful discussion, decided to move forward with the idea of initiating the SJAA Solar Observing Program.

The cornerstone of this program is the club’s acquisition of a telescope that is suitable for viewing the sun in a rich and meaningful way, as well as a mount that is up to the task of handling public events.  We recently took delivery of a Lunt Visual Package and conducted the first solar observing session yesterday, 5 Feb 2012 on the grounds of San Jose’s Houge Park.

Our newest board member, Michael Packer, is running the solar program.  His plan is to have a solar day at Houge Park on the first Sunday of every month.  The exact dates of the solar program will be made available once they are assembled, so please keep an eye out for the schedule on the SJAA’s website.

Here is Michael’s report from the first solar day:

The 1st Solar Program was a success especially for those who stayed through Superbowl kick-off time, when the clouds opened up.  About 20 people strolled by and many stayed the distance. In addition to SJAA’s new H-alpha solar scope, we had solar-filter-equipped scopes and binoculars set up to safely view the sun along with a beautiful eyepiece projection system.

Before 3:30pm we were able to observe, through the cloud layer, 3 Sunspot groups (1 complex) plus several faculae. 3:30 onwards we could bump the magnification up to 100x and see prominences all around the sun with the largest on the opposite side to the sunspot region. The 100mm aperture views of these emissions in H-alpha was just spectacular.

SJAA Solar Programs will now be held on the 1st Sunday of every month 2:00-4:00 PM. The next program is March 4th. As with this 1st program, we will hand out material on how to observe, sketch and record sunspot activity. You can also visit The Astronomical League webpage at

Virtually all commercial scopes can be equipped with a solar filter to safely view the Sun as it approaches Solar Maximum over the next several years. Drop by our program to see for yourself. You don’t need a H-alpha scope to follow this progression. However H-alpha observing allows one too see the solar flares and plasma eruptions that in size, dwarf the Earth. And SJAA now has a H-alpha scope for all of us to see these events!

Congratulations to the membership of the SJAA, as well as the public in general, for the addition of this valuable new program!

Posted in Anouncements, Blog, Programs