Sunspot Tracking, February 3-5 Feb 8, 2011 1:00:36 GMT -6
Post by Paulie pchris00 on Feb 8, 2011 1:00:36 GMT -6
ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN OBSERVING THE SUN
The Endtimes/Groundhog Day blizzard of 2011 left us with clear skies Wednesday night, until after midnight Thursday morning. I spent about an hour observing until the clouds rolled in, along with a deep freeze. Thursday was cold, but skies were very clear during the day as I finished the job of digging out. Once I had an observing pad cleared on the back patio, I set up my 60mm refractor to observe the solar disk. I had checked the current visible light Sun image in the morning, but had overlooked a small sunspot group forming. I expected to see a blank disk, and at first glance, that is what I saw. Looking a little closer, I noticed a dark spot on the projected image. I assumed that it could be a speck of dust on either the primary lens or the eyepiece. Out of curiosity, I checked the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory image from that morning again, discovering that I had missed a small sunspot. I forgot to save a copy of that image before refreshing it, but still noticed that the pair had grown slightly over about six hours.
Observing Thursday afternoon.
Thursday afternoon's SDO visible light image.
Leaving work Friday morning, the Sun was just over the horizon, and while waiting for my car to warm up, I set up my little telescope for another look at the Sun. I found that my sunspot had split into a pair. The sky remained clear, but I needed to sleep. When I woke up I had to hurry to get ready to leave. Hillary and I were going to meet some people for coffee, and I wanted to catch the day old Moon before I left. I hadn’t checked the status of the sunspots online either.
Once the Sun was above the tree, I noticed the sunspot from Thursday had split into two sunspots.
From SDO Friday morning.
Saturday morning was cloudy, and Hillary had been waiting for The Gary Railcats 2011 Fanfest since their season ended last September. Finally the day arrived, so after the recent harsh winter weather, it was good to think about baseball. By the time the event ended, the sky was clearing, with almost two more hours until sunset. Before we left the hotel, I set up my scope and looked for my sunspots again, but couldn’t find any evidence of them. It had been nearly 33 hours since I’d observed the Sun, so I don’t know what happened to them. I checked the most recent SDO image when I got home, which confirmed that the sunspots I’d been tracking were gone, but another sunspot system was developing above the solar equator.
SDO Saturday. The sunspot group I was first tracking has disappeared, but a new group has formed.
The new system is past the central meridian, so there won’t be many days for observing it. Sunday and Monday were cloudy, and we aren’t expected to see the Sun again until Wednesday. If we happen to get a little sunshine in the next few days, I will track the evolution of this pair until they turn the solar limb.
For tips on safe solar observing, check the links below.