Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Neil Armstrong--A True and Modest Hero

I was driving by campus today and went by the statue of Neil Armstrong outside Armstrong Hall.  I pulled over and my daughter (a 6th grader who was with me) and I spent a few quiet moments with the great man.  It is wonderful to see how many people have taken the time to bring something to the statue.  It was one small step forNeil and a huge cosmic leap for the rest of us!  Thank you, Mr. Armstrong, for showing us how it should be done!

Full Disk H-Alpha

This is my first attempt to stitch together a full-disk image in H-Alpha,  It's definitely not up to the standards of the folks in the Yahoo PST group, but it's here, warts and all, as an illustration of my evolution as a solar imager.  My photo package does not autostitch a panorama, so there was lots of layer switching and moving around of images to make this pic.  I'm not sure I'll do it again as it is incredibly time-consuming!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

See-through Prominence

The limb of the sun can be clearly seen though this prominence.  The quiet sun can still have some surprises!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Observatory Part 9

I took this picture this evening of the moon rising over the Walnut Ridge observatory.  As you can see, the building shell is pretty much complete with the front weatherboard (a 6 x 1) attached and the doors installed.  I have to adjust the doors to properly align them, but they open quite smoothly.  Here's another shot of the observatory in better light:

There;s still lots to do--I have to install insulation and put up the internal stud and finish walls.  I have lots of caulking to do and, most importantly, I have to build the roll off frame. But for now, I feel quite pleased at the way the building has come out.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Observatory Part 8

We made very good progress over the last 2 days.  The roof is now on the observatory and weather boards have been fitted on the sides and front.  The view inside shows that there's going to be a lot of caulking to do!

As you can see, I still have some screws to put in to seal the top frame to the walls completely.  The gap at the back between the roof frame and the top frame will be sealed with the rubber sealing material used on garage doors. The front gap above the door frame will be sealed with a 1 x 6 and the same sealing material as the rear.

The front and rear weatherboards also function to keep the roof frame from sagging.  A 10 foot long 2 x 4 that is unsupported sags significantly.  The weatherboards are 2 x 4s attached at right angles.  While attaching them, we pushed the roof frame up to remove the sag and screwed the weatherboard in as we went along with decking screws.  Tomorrow, if I get time, I'll attach the front weatherboard and install the doors.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Reversed image of a Streaming Prominence

This streaming prominence on the edge of the sun hints at action to come as it moves onto the visible solar disk. The image below was taken an hour later and changes are quite apparent.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Observatory Part 7

Good progress today!  My son-in-law and I hauled out the pre cut timber for the roof frame and assembled it in the barn on the observatory site.

I has already attached the castors prior to assembly (we assembled it upside down and flipped it).  We rolled the frame outside and lifted it onto the wall frame of the observatory.

I was relieved to find it fitted well and rolled easily.  The next step was to install the anchor mechanisms (four of them).  As you can see from the picture below, I went for "cheap and cheerful!"

These latches, one on each corner, can be tightened by screwing the barrel.  On each side, they angle away from each other so that the roof is anchored no matter the wind direction. Nathan and I pushed as hard as we could and the frame was as solid as if we had nailed it in place.  The next step  was to erect the gables on the frame:

And finally, we added the roof braces:

Problem!  We cut the roof frame exactly to size, but the braces were actually longer than the shed by an inch or so!  As the shed is also exact dimensions, we were a little perplexed.  Our plan to fix the issue is quite simple.  I am going to add weatherboards to all sides, so I will just add a 2 x 4 to the back and a 2 x 8 to the  front.  These boards will "hang down" off the roof frame and keep out the weather.  Once they are attached, we'll simple move the gable bases out an inch or so until the whole assembly is square.

Work finished, we covered the building in a tarp.  Next week, we should be able to get the roof on....

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

AR 1543--Decent Seeing

I took this image of AR 1543 this afternoon.  Seeing was considerably better than yesterday.  A lot more detail is visible on this image than the one I took yesterday.  This is a stack of 164 of 1003 frames.  Below is another image taken about 10 minutes later:

Seeing had improved even more.  Note the improved contrast and fine detail in the spot "center" on this image. The upper image has been cropped, but the lower one if full resolution (1280 x 720).

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

AR 1543

This is an image of AR 1543 in rather poor seeing.  The group has the potential to produce M-Class flares.  This is a stack of 243 frames out of 1000--a testament to how bad seeing was during today's imaging session.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

AR 1543 with Edge Prominence

I was processing this image of Sunspot 1543 when I noticed the rather nice prominence on the edge of the disk.  Spicules are almost resolved; it's very tough to image them with the small aperture of the PST and a single etalon.

AR 1542

Although the sun is fairly quiet at the moment, Sunspot 1542 is producing small, C-class flares. Note the prominences at the edge of the sun's disk.

Farewell to our Filamentary Friend

This is probably one of the last images I will take of this filament as it moves over the sun's limb.  It was fun while it lasted!  This is a stack of 690 frames out of 1000, stacked and processed in my usual tools (Registax, Corel, and Windows).

Jupiter in full daylight

I was cleaning and collimating my old LXD55 10 inch SNT this morning at around 11:30 am.  The sky was very clear and I decided to do some testing on the moon, which was visible toward the west.  I took a  quick look and walked away.  The scope was not powered or properly polar aligned.  I left the scope and came back about 10 minutes later and was very surprised to see Jupiter in the field of view.  With the barlow and a 26mm eyepiece, bands were clearly visible on the planet.   I've never looked for Jupiter in broad daylight and it was a real treat to see it unexpectedly.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Huge Filament--3

 This is another image documenting the continued evolution of this large solar filament.  Note the "braiding" on the right hand side of this image, and the break toward the left.  Contrast this with other images of this feature in earlier posts. This is a stack of 970 images (Astrostack), wavelet processing and final tweaks in Corel Paint Shop Pro X2 and Windows.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Huge Filament Day 2

Here's a pic of this enormous filament today.  Note the evolution of the shape; it is much more "shredded."  Perhaps the magnetic field is collapsing. These images are combinations of two separate 1000 frame captures.  The upper pic is colorized, mainly just to look pretty, but it also enhances some of the details. Seeing was significantly poorer than yesterday.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Observatory Part 6

Great progress on the build yesterday.  My son (Scott) and I headed out to the site with 2x6s to replace the 2x4s (see the Observatory Part 5 post).  The building had been banged around a little by a storm several days ago, but damage was very light (just a few small 'dings').  We spend most of the day working in 100 degree weather, but the result was worth it (Scott, you did an awesome job!). The work we did made everything very solid.  We had 70 mph winds and storms early this morning (Sunday).  I went out to the site full of trepidation, but the building was just fine with no further bending of the panels!

As you can see from the pix, we added the 2x6s to make the top frame for the observatory.  We added extra supports to the 4x4s with some spare timber, and also braced the 2x6s with horizontal 2x4 braces in the corners.  The result was a very robust frame.  We also braced the center of the 12 foot walls with a 2x4.  These walls, plus the back wall, will eventually be true stud walls with insulation and a finish wall of some kind on top.  We also added 4x4s on the long walls, attaching them with pole barn nails. The 4x4s give extra wall height and will form the tracks for the roll off roof.  Below are some pix taken at the end of the day.

You might notice some of the storm damage in these pix.  Note the twist in the center brace on the rear wall. The side wall was also slammed by winds and the next pic shows some of this minor damage (creasing):

The bracing and the attachment of the 2x6s to the top of the wall should prevent any further flexture.  The next steps are to attach the door and the build the roof frame and the roof.

Huge Filament

The Yahoo PST group tipped me off about this huge filament.  One of the members estimated it is about 800,000 km in length--that's over twice the distance from the earth to the moon!  This is a stack of around 900 images, captured with a Microsoft Lifecam, stacked in Registax 6 and tweaked in Corel Paint Shop Pro X2 and Windows Gallery; tracking was equatorial and manual (slow motion).  Thanks to everyone in the PST and QCUIAG groups who has encouraged me to continue improving my pix; I think this is one of the best I have ever taken!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Three Pix

These pix are single exposures taken today in very poor seeing conditions (the sun was in hazy cloud and shimmering like the reflection on the surface of a pond.  Notice, however, that the focus seems a little better on these than my previous efforts.  I simply attached a clothes peg to the focusing knob of the PST, and focusing became much, much easier!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Filaments Near AR 1529 and AR 1530

Some nice filaments on the solar disk near AR 1529 and AR 1530. Things are heating up nicely for Solarmax!

A Wall on the Sun

This filament, close to AR 1538 (at the 1 o'clock position), looks almost like a wall stretching to the prominences on the solar limb.