Eclipse Report, Part 1

You may have heard that the total solar eclipse caused some major traffic jams in Oregon.  I managed to avoid most of that by traveling to the Oregon Star Party (OSP) on Aug. 15th and returning very early on the 22nd.  That is, I left at 5AM.  Apparently, very few people are willing to get up early to beat the traffic, so I managed to get out of the path of totality (where most people were) while they were still sleeping. I have only a vague memory of a solar eclipse when I was a kid, and it probably wasn’t […]

Can we get some sunshine here?

The solar telescope I ordered months ago just arrived, which likely means the Sun will not show itself any time soon.  This is a Lunt LS60THa with pressure tuner and straight-through 12mm blocking filter.  Except for the “straight through” part (as opposed to the diagonal that is normally used for visual observing) this is a pretty common solar telescope, allowing you to safely view the Sun and see details of regions in the hydrogen-alpha band.  This is the same spectral line that I often use in photographing nebulae, but for the Sun a much narrower filter is required.  I use […]

Welcome to 2017, Year of the Solar Eclipse

Ignoring politics (which seems like a wise thing to do), the biggest news item for 2017 just might be the total solar eclipse that will be visible across almost all of the U.S. on August 21st of this year.  I plan to write fairly often about all things solar this year, and post at least a few solar images – especially after the new solar telescope arrives in a few months. I had hoped to get at least one new image captured before the end of 2016, but it didn’t happen.  We had one clear night recently, but I was too busy […]

Where Does It Go?

It’s a phrase we hear a lot this time of year – “where did the time go?”, and it certainly does feel like 2016 flew by much too quickly, but what I’m really referring to here is that since I’m all done with holiday bazaars and other sales events for the year, I thought I’d tell you where the profits from my business go. First I am thrilled to report that sales were great this year.  I had set a goal of a 30% increase over last year, but as of this moment it is close to a 70% increase!  […]

Summer Sun

Now that Summer is upon us, I’ve been using a hydrogen-alpha solar telescope to take pictures of our Sun: Taking pictures of the Sun is quite different from the “deep space” photography that I normally do.  It actually felt weird to be taking pictures in the observatory during the day.  And the exposures are so short!  With deep space images you need to capture multiple long exposures and “stack” (combine) them to reveal the dim details.  You can’t do very much stacking with solar images because the details actually change pretty quickly, so they would become blurred in a combined […]

Image of the Mercury Transit

The fates conspired to keep from going to a star party this past weekend, where I had intended to shoot a full sequence of the Mercury transit so that I could combine them into a composite image showing the path of Mercury across the Sun.  The weather at home was predicted to be very cloudy, but I set up everything anyway, and was rewarded for my efforts with several long periods of sunshine. I got about 200 frames with Mercury in various places along its path.  These could and should be combined to produce a less noisy image, but I […]