Wednesday, October 24, 2012

An Active Sun

The sun showed some nice activity today, with roiling active areas, prominences, and filaments.  Imaged and processed as usual.  PST plus SolarMax II.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Solar Gallery

Here are a few images I took today.  Captured PST with SolarMax II and MS Webcam.  Average stack size of around 840/1000 frames.  Processed in Registax, Corel, and Windows.

Friday, October 12, 2012

AR 1589 Double- and Single-Stack

Although the sky was a clear, deep blue today, seeing was not good.  Crisp air and local ground heating produced lots of turbulence.  However, I think I am getting the hang of the doublestack now.  Very, very fine adjustments make a huge difference.  Here is AR 1589 with the DS:

And here it is with the plain PST:

The differences are something I have noticed about the DS filter.  It produces images that are more detailed and yet "softer" and more "photographic."  I hope to have some good seeing soon, so that I can see what the DS is really capable of!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Active Area with Trailing Filaments

Double-stacking really brings out the dark filaments on the sun's surface, as this image illustrates:

The "tweaking" of the SolarMaxII etalon is very subtle; I've found that very small movements (around a 16th of an inch in rotation) really do make a difference to the final image.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

More Dramatic Prominences

There is  dramatic activity on the limb of the sun, today.  These prominences hint at increasing solar activity.


There was some dramatic prominence activity on the sun yesterday--things seem to be heating up again!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Better DS Results

Dumping the Barlow Lens seems to help...

AR 1585 and Prominence

This is a doublestack image.  Artifacts are due to grunge on my imaging chip!

More DS vs Standard Experiments

I followed some excellent advice I received from the Yahoo PST group and spent a good deal of time setting up the DS filter on the scope.  I found that the "sweet spot" for the SolarMax II had the tuner hard up against the pin.  I carefully removed the pin and repositioned it 5 holes away in the middle of the tuner slot.  This gave me extra capabilities when it came to tuning, although at the other end of travel, the image was too dark to see.

Visuallty, I could really see a big difference with the DS in place--much more surface detail was visible, but prominences seemed a little fainter and not as detailed.  I took the following images for comparison.  I cropped then to about 25% of size, and oversharpened them to exaggerate differences.  Here is the DS image:

And here is the standard image:

The DS image had more features and a more balanced look.  The standard seems better focused, which highlights one of the issues I'm having when imaging.  The DS is very hard to focus optimally.  Unstacked, you have a real sense of "snap: as the scope reaches focus.  I don't get that with the DS and I seem to be hunting for he least hazy image position on focus.  I should point out that this is only an issue when imaging.  Visually, focus using the DS is sharp and clear.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

DS vs SS PST--part 2

I tuned the filters visually, rather than trying to adjust them via the imager.  Here are two more images to compare after that process:



The edge detail looks better in the SS, but much more detail is visible in the DS image.

The difference between SS and DS when using the scope visually is very apparent.  Operating in DS mode, visual images have much more detail and contrast.  The images don't capture this difference quite as well.  However, for speed of comparison, the above images were smaller stacks (500 as opposed to 1000) and captured at 640 x 480 as opposed to 1280 x 720.

Single vs Double Stack PST

My goal was to compare the scope operating in both modes.  Here's the DS image:

And here is the SS image:

I found DS harder to focus; I'm not sure if the image is actually better....

I suspect the problem is with tuning the SolarMax filter.  I tuned for this image via the imager itself and this might not be the optimal way to tune it.  I'll try again, this time with visual tuning.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

PST Double Stack

I came home today to find this package sitting on the kitchen counter:

My double stack filter had finally arrived!  I hurriedly opened the box and found the following case inside:

It felt impressively heavy.  I opened it and found a beautiful piece of engineering inside.

I lifted the filter out.  Like the PST, it feels like a solid, high-quality product.  The build and finish were impressive. Here is a view, looking into the back of the filter.

Fitting to the PST was simplicity itself.  It screws right into the threads on the lens hood.  The fully-assembled instrument looks like it means business!

The DS PST is obviously too long for the cutout in the Coronado case.  Increasing the size would require cutting  the foam and reducing the cushioning between the scope and the case at both ends of the instrument.  My plan is to store the PST and the filter in their own cases and assemble them each observing session.

I can't wait to try it out!