Solar Observation - 31 Dec'04... Jan 1, 2005 18:43:21 GMT -6
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jan 1, 2005 18:43:21 GMT -6
Solar Observing Session
31 December 2004
12:00 PM – 4:45 PM
Visitors served: 102
Pledged to work the Telescope Terrace on the last day of the year, the day was bright and rather warm for a winter’s day, but quite windy, with winds gusting from the South.
Once again, I choose the 4” refractor with aperture filter. I had planned to set up a projection screen to display the solar disk during the session and utilized a second whiteboard from the volunteer area as the intended screen, with cardboard shading. But the winds were too fierce to set up anything that wouldn’t act as a wind sail, so I had to abandoned the screen. Without proper anchoring, even the roll-about moved around without any assistance from me, and that too could not be kept outside, lest all the materials be freely distributed along the lakefront.
I set up the scope and prepared for the afternoon. I like to use a series of three eyepieces when showing the public views. Starting off with a 25mm, progressing to an 18mm and ending with a 10mm, zooming in on sunspots. I showed the sun with the aperture filter for the first hour, which I enjoyed, but the public seemed rather blasé about it. Comments of “All I see is a round ball” and “ What am I looking at?” were common. A change of tactic was in order. Since I had to jettison the standalone screen idea to the side, I used a clipboard with white sheet and taped cardboard shading around it for a handheld projection session. Projection imaging has always been much more impressive, as the disk is bigger, I can point out various aspects and several can share the view at one time as it now becomes a group activity. Now I was getting good feedback. I put the aperture filter to the side, and used tinted filtering to enhance the experience for the remainder of the afternoon. Comments of “Wow!”, “ Look at the sunspots!” and questions were now flowing and more common. Many enjoyed the atmospheric turbulence along the edge of the disk as well.
The disk looks more impressive with a yellow filter and displays the granulation and surface shading variations more clearly than straight and raw observation…and the public likes it better. I tried using red, blue and ultra-violet filers, but it looked unnatural and didn’t enhance the image for general observing.
Sunspot # 715 was plainly visible and a great many inquiries were made about it. As the sun got lower toward the horizon, we would catch an aircraft passing in front of the disk every once in awhile. This would bring on a great cheer from the crowds, and as sunset was approaching, flying birds made their way into the projection as well. I did catch an unknown object transiting rather quickly across the face, as a dark distant dot shot across, perhaps a highflying aircraft or satellite.
As the lower edge of the Sun touched the buildings of the Chicago skyline, I encouraged crowds to gather to watch the last sunset of 2004. A group of 14 all gathered around the telescope and reserved their spot. It was quite a surreal event, as the motion of the Earth rather quickly sank the Sun into the next year and the crowd became silent. As the last vestige of the disk vanished from our sight, we all cheered and wished all a Happy New Year!
The sunset group dispersed and the solar session of the day was over. People heard of the event and started to meander toward the Terrace, asking if they could view the sunset. Considering there is only one sunset per day, I had to inform them that sorry, but the viewing was now concluded…but there would be more opportunities in the future. I did notice a few visitors with Adler member tags on and a few stated that they would be in attendance at FOF on the 7th. A good night to have it, as comet Macholz will be close to the Pleaides cluster. Let’s hope for clear weather.
I returned the equipment back to it’s place and put up the blue bulletin board. And as the security personnel were barking through the P.A. to vacate the premises, I felt comfortable on a good day of solar observation.