Taking My First Pictures of Sun Spots

What are sun spots? Well to simply put it these are changes in the Sun’s magnetic field .The magnetic field is actually stretched between the poles and the equator of the Sun, causing tubes or tunnels to form in  the magnetic field. These tubes rise, break the surface and trap superheated gas below the surface….. resulting in a lower temperature in that area and forming a sun spot.

These sunspots are not new on the Sun and have been seen as far back as the 4th century BC and at one stage way back in our history some people thought they were tiny planets orbiting the Sun. Of course we know better these days.


Spacecraft Picture of Sun 24/9/2009 (Click for Larger Picture)

On the left is a picture of the sun showing an example of what these sun spots look like. The picture was taken by the SOHO spacecraft which has been orbiting the Sun since 1995.

An interesting thing with sunspots at the moment is that we are going through what is called a solar minimum which is where there is a lack of sunspots and solar flares for days or weeks at a time.

In 2008 and 2009 we have had a huge lack of sunspots. 2008 had on average only 8 sunspots a month and 2009 is no better as we are averaging around 5 sunspots a month….. sometimes with no spots for an entire month.

An interesting time with the Sun at the moment.

Since Sydney has so much rain at the moment, mainly at night for some reason, I decided to try my hand at solar astronomy on the side and see for myself what is happening with these sunspots.

Warning : Never look at the sun through a telescope without a filter or you will be blinded permanently.

Now armed with a Solar Filter for my telescope, I started looking at the Sun and finding no Sun Spots whatsover.  In fact I had to wait for 19 days until I was able to see a Sunspot through my scope.

The picture above was taken by the spacecraft orbiting the Sun on 24th September 2009. This was the day that armed with my scope and camera and a clear sky above, I decided to try and take a picture of the sunspots.

And the picture is below. Note however that on 23rd September 2009 Sydney experienced the worst dust storms in 70 years, so viewing conditions when I took this picture were not ideal. But I am still happy with the picture.

These Sun Spots are interesting as it looks like the Sun was bitten by a snake.

My View of the Sunspots 24/09/2009 ( Click For Larger Image )

My View of the Sunspots 24/09/2009 ( Click For Larger Image )

~ by sydneystargazers on October 7, 2009.

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