Astro photography
II


The Sun

The Sun, June 3, 2011. This photograph was taken with a hydrogen alpha scope that only shows one wavelength of light, at 656.3 nanometres. This is the particular wavelength of hydrogen alpha light. Observing the Sun in hydrogen alpha makes it possible to see structural details.

The Sun on this day had good examples of several different solar features. Large prominences of plasma lift off the surface of the Sun at tremendous speeds, and they are most easily seen along the edge with the darkness of space behind them. The moderately large prominence on the upper right, held aloft by an immense magnetic arch, could contain perhaps a dozen Earths within its two arms. The three dark streaks seen on the solar disk are prominences seen from above rather than in profile. The streaks are called filaments, and each of these ones are about 100,000 km long. A few scattered sunspots, looking like small dots, are visible just above the centre of the disk. The bright area around the central sunspot group is called a plage, and it's an area slightly hotter than the average solar surface temperature. Finally, the generally granular look of the surface is caused by hot convection patterns welling up and receding from the solar interior to surface, and back to the interior.

The Sun's appearance changes every day, and I have a look with my solar scope every chance I get.

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Steve Irvine
R.R. # 2
Wiarton, Ontario
Canada N0H 2T0
(519) 534 2175
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