Chris McKitterick (mckitterick) wrote,
Chris McKitterick

Astro-Porn of the Day: Two Solar Eclipses, one with Ray Bradbury.

Lots of photos from the two recent eclipses of the Sun. First, the most recent, when Venus did its best, blotting out less than 1% of the Sun as viewed from Earth, on June 5, 2012.

This first photo of me with my telescope was taken right at sunset. Oh, almost forgot to mention that I had to set up my 'scope for tracking by using an antique sextant! The clock-drive mechanism (counters the rotation of the Earth) requires two stars to align, unless you point precisely North and get the mount perfectly level. After I set it up the second time (batteries overheated and shut down after an hour), I got it so the Sun stayed CENTERED. Aw, yeah, old tech FTW. Lemme point out that this 'scope's drive uses GPS to sense location. Heh. GPS/sextent combo feels right somehow.

Note the T-shirt, worn in honor of Ray Bradbury, who left us the day after.

Here's how the transit looked, about two hours into the event, using my camera with no telescope, just zooming in on the Sun. You can see clouds hazing the image to the right, and just barely make out Venus in the upper-right:

And here's how it looked precariously focusing a camera through a 33mm eyepiece, mounted to my telescope. I used a 0.63 focal reducer, effectively cutting my telescope's magnification by almost 40% - the Sun is very big, and to see it all you need low power. Also used a Seymour Solar full-aperture glass filter, blocking out almost all light. Notice all the sunspots - double-feature! Very active Sun right now:

The endless line of locals wanting to see Venus cross the Sun finally began to dwindle after a few hours. Not sure what I'm gesticulating about, but what's more exciting than an event like this? See the major reflectivity of the solar filter capping my 'scope. Photo by Vijay Barve, who has a nice blog of the event here.

Here I've finally gotten away from my 'scope to check out the transit through a specialized Coronado solar telescope, which uses a Hydrogen-alpha filter: This only passes one bandwidth (the light given off by one type of hydrogen plasma) rather than passing only a fraction of all light, the way my natural-light filter (essentially a mirror) does:

Wonderful example of why I WANT A HYDROGEN-ALPHA telescope. Wow. It Taken by Mike Borman in Evansville, Indiana, with a Televue 102iis refractor, Coronado SM90 h-alpha filter with BF30, Imaging Source DMK41AU02.AS camera, and a 0.5x reducer. Look at the detail you can see, including tons of flare and prominence activity along the limbs (edges) of the Sun:

Far too soon, the Sun approached the horizon, and a haze rolled in. Still, it was a gorgeous sunset:

Okay, now let's go back in time to May 20, 2012, and the BIG solar eclipse. Here's a little gang of locals hanging out at my 'scope:

From the other side. Two school-teachers brought telescopes and busloads of kids to the event. Fun!

Vijay Barve also attended this event and made a lovely series of photos in his blog of the event here. Here's the eclipse, just at sunset, as haze and horizon cut things short:

The field just outside the Lied Center for the Performing Arts on the KU campus, right at sunset. John Hoopes took this using a smartphone with a stitching-panorama app. Cool.

Hope you enjoyed this little astro-tour of the recent eclipses! One of the reasons I so much love bringing my telescope out in public is that I know the sense of wonder that seeing something dramatic through a telescope can provide.

Dear Mr. Bradbury, thank you for all the wonder you provided us all.

Tags: astronomy, telescopes

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