Sunday 6 December 2015

More Sun and more learning...

Hello everyone,

The opportunity arose for a session with the Sun this Sunday morning.  Today a sector of the Sun contained several prominence features and some sunspot and filament activity.

The prominences on show were particularly fast moving.  Their shape and patterns changed markedly over the half hour of sketching them.  Such were the changes that I just could not go back to the first lot I laid down as the structures were pretty much totally altered.  This surprized me, and lesson learned about not leaving proms to come back to them – you just don’t know how fast these features are changing.

Conditions were not great today.  Thermal haze was constantly having the image come in and out of focus.  The chromosphere features are particularly sensitive to thermal haze, and it took some stubborn persistence to get the detail I wanted.  A nice cluster of sunspots and a lot of plages around them made for a great challenge to lay down.  Oh, if that haze would just stop!!!

When close to finishing this piece, it occurred to me to stop down the aperture of the scope, essentially out of curiosity just to see what would happen.  I got a lovely surprise that this helped to increase the contrast and made features easier to see with the magnification taken really low down.  Second lesson learned today.

My kids came out for a look when I completed my sketch.  I quietly mention to be patient with the red & black image as our eyes are not accustomed to seeing in such colours, and that the details will reveal themselves as if by magic.  And they always come up with great questions that test my knowledge and ability to answer their questions in terms that make sense to them, and not overwhelm them with science jargon.  I have an outreach night coming up in April with the Girl Guides’ – my kids’ questions make for some good practice!


Object:  Sun – (left to right) broken detached pyramid, mound & anomalous prominences, sunspots, plages & filaments
Scope:  ED80 f/7.5
Gear:  Daystar Quark, 25mm Pl, 101X
Date:  6th December, 2015, 10:30 am AEST
Location:  Sydney, Australia.

Media:  Coloured soft pastels & charcoal on A5 size black paper.

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