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Posts Tagged ‘Sunspots’

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Above: My extremely humble, unedited photo of the Sun with a dramatically large sunspot group currently visible. I could even see the largest spot using the eclipse shades we used for observing the May 20, 2012 solar eclipse. Read all about it and see some very sharp photos at Spaceweather.com. Solar projection method with 60mm refractor telescope and 17mm eyepiece.

Below: Waning Crescent Moon at 5:37 AM CDT July 3, 2013 (10:37 UT). 8″ reflector telescope, 25mm eyepiece.
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At the neighborhood park, at dawn on July 3:
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Above: A mother Mallard and half-grown ducklings heading towards the water.
Below: I was very pleased to see a mother Wood Duck with eight ducklings!
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Photos above with 7×35 Bushnell binoculars.

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Above: It’s amazing how much wildlife one can see so close to the city, and you see more by coming out at a quiet time such as the early morning.

Below: A very calm dragonfly, no doubt looking forward to a fine day of mosquito hunting.
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It’s good to get down to the neighborhood park again. Once I was there once or twice a day, but not very often for almost a year. The park is full of memory for me, the memory of two thousand walks with Pluto during the last two and a half years of his long life. But life goes on, new ducklings and all!

All with LG VX8360 cell phone camera. Click to enlarge.

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The Sun at 6:03 PM CDT July 4, 2012 (23:03 UT), projected via 60mm refractor telescope and 17mm eyepiece. 1515 is the designation for the long sunspot group lower left of center, which according to Spaceweather.com is “crackling” with “almost X-Class” solar flares, each “crackle” releasing the energy of over a billion atomic bombs. Click here to visit Spaceweather.com and view a movie of Sunspot 1515 growing over the past five days. Today is Independence Day here in the USA. These are plenty of fireworks indeed!

I contracted the sunspot observation bug while getting ready to view the Venus transit,. The Sun is big, bright, observable in the daytime, has a “major impact” on life here on Earth, and is constantly changing. A rewarding target, but one must be careful! I’ve been continuing to improve my projection box with simple notebook paper, and sometime soon I’ll experiment with a sheet of white crafting foam, because I think I still have some around here somewhere. Here’s the Front Deck Solar Observatory at work:

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Waxing gibbous Moon at 12:04 AM CDT June 29, 2012 (05:04 UT), 8″ reflector telescope with 25mm eyepiece (65x magnification).


Northern portion of the Moon at 12:02 AM CDT 6-29-12 (05:02 UT), with the crater Plato very prominent, one of my perennial favorites. Magnification doubled to 130x with 2x Barlow.

Viewing the Venus transit got me in gear for sunspot observation, and at an apt time, since the Sun is now quite active as it approaches a solar maximum:

The Sun at 8:40 AM CDT June 30, 2012 (13:40 UT), 60mm refractor telescope with 17mm eyepiece via projection. The Sun is getting spotty indeed! Clockwise from upper right, the three conspicuous sunspots are 1512, 1514, and 1513 respectively. According to Spaceweather.com, “Sunspots 1512 and 1513 pose a threat for M-class solar flares,” and the effects have recently been felt across Europe especially.

LG VX8360 cell phone camera. Click to enlarge.

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The Sun at 9:18 AM CDT June 27, 2012 (14:18 UT), projected onto white paperboard via my 60mm refractor telescope with 17mm eyepiece. The innocent-looking sunspot group just to the lower right of center is Sunspot 1512, which according to Spaceweather.com “poses a growing threat for M-class solar flares.” They also report a coronal hole still on the Sun’s far side, but soon to rotate within sight of Earth, which will likely send a stream of solar wind which will reach Earth on July 1-2, causing aurorae (Northern/Southern Lights), etc. Don’t worry, we’ve been through it all many times before, but I’ll keep you posted.

WordPress.com gives me a report on what kinds of search engine searches brought people to my site, and somebody today searched for “what did the Moon look like on June 19, 2012?” Well, since that was the New Moon phase, it couldn’t be seen from Earth at all that day, but someone viewing the Earth-Moon system from the Sun’s direction would have seen the far side of the Moon fully illuminated. Here’s a simulated view via NASA/JPL’s delightful Solar System Simulator:

Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

Venus, now a “morning star,” is well-situated in my sky for updates on its changing phases, as it continues to recede from Earth after the glorious Transit of June 5/6, 2012, so I’ll keep on updating this photo series every few days or so:

11:21 AM CDT June 27, 2012 (16:21 UT)
Angular diameter 47.07 arc seconds
13.4% illumination
Distance from Earth 32,940,927 miles (53,013,283 km)
25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow
8:38 AM CDT June 21, 2012 (13:38 UT)
Angular diameter 51.42 arc seconds
7.8% illumination
Distance from Earth 30,154,150 miles (48,528,401 km)
25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow
8:57 AM CDT June 12, 2012 (13:57 UT)
Angular diameter 56.46 arc seconds
1.6% illumination
Distance from Earth 27,463,558 miles (44,198,313 km)
25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow
7:33 PM CDT June 5, 2012 (00:33 UT June 6, 2012)
Angular diameter 57.78 arc seconds
0.0% illumination, transiting the Sun
Distance from Earth 26,836,379 miles (43,188,966 km)
Projection method with 60mm refractor telescope and 17mm eyepiece
10:50 AM CDT May 16, 2012 (15:50 UT)
Angular diameter 48.03 arc seconds
12.3% illumination
Distance from Earth 32,284,073 miles (51,956,179 km)
10:26 AM CDT May 10, 2012 (15:26 UT)
Angular diameter 43.71 arc seconds
18.1% illumination
Distance from Earth 35,473,212 miles (57,088,600 km)
25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow
12:41 PM CDT May 3, 2012 (17:41 UT)
Angular diameter 39.11 arc seconds
24.5% illumination
Distance from Earth 39,649,337 miles (63,809,423 km)
18mm eyepiece

7:14 PM CDT April 22, 2012 (00:14 UT 4-23-12)
Angular diameter 33.12 arc seconds
33.6% illumination
Distance from Earth 46,812,338 miles (75,337,236 km)
25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow

6:28 PM CDT March 24, 2012 (23:28 UT)
Angular diameter 22.95 arc seconds
52.4% illumination
Distance from Earth 67,571,683 miles (108,746,083 km)

4:10 PM CST February 12, 2012 (22:10 UT)
Angular diameter 16.24 arc seconds
70.2% illumination
Distance from Earth 95,450,953 miles (153,613,419 km)
18mm eyepiece

1:48 PM CST February 8, 2012 (19:48 UT)
Angular diameter 15.82 arc seconds
71.7% illumination
Distance from Earth 98,020,580 miles (157,748,833 km)
18mm eyepiece

2:37 PM CST January 5, 2012 (20:37 UT)
Angular diameter 13.19 arc seconds
81.6% illumination
Distance from Earth 117,572,894 miles (189,215,232 km)
2:21 PM CST November 29, 2011 (20:21 UT)
Angular diameter 11.46 arc seconds
89.5% illumination
Distance from Earth 135,265,885 miles (217,689,541 km)
4:18 PM CST November 20, 2011 (22:18 UT)
Angular diameter 11.13 arc seconds
91.2% illumination
Distance from Earth 139,346,992 miles (227,254,246 km)
12:03 PM CST January 5, 2011 (18:03 UTC)
Angular diameter 25.58 arc seconds
48.6% illumination
Distance from Earth 60,611,164 miles (97,544,214 km)
10:02 AM CST November 27, 2010 (16:02 UTC)
Angular diameter 44.72 arc seconds
20.6% illumination
Distance from Earth 34,669,885 miles (55,795,771 km)
12:40 PM CDT (17:40 UTC), November 5, 2010
Angular diameter 59.94 arc seconds
2.4% illumination
Distance from Earth 25,866,740 miles (41,628,483 km)

Unless otherwise noted, 8″ reflector telescope, 25mm eyepiece. LG VX8360 cell phone camera.

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