Popular Astronomy

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SPA Solar Section

 

Image of solar Active Regions taken on 2014 May 5th by Carl Bowron. Click to enlarge

The Sun, our nearest star,  is one of the most interesting objects in the sky to observe using a small telescope.  

A simple telescope (with a filter or using projection - see below) will show you the sunspots, as they come and go, and the "surface" of the Sun with its granulation giving it a mottled look. Bright areas called faculae are often seen around sunspots when they are near the edge of the Sun's disk.

More advanced is the daily viewing of prominences at the edge of the solar disk using a Hydrogen-alpha filter. These filters (often combined now with a purpose-made small portable telescope) will show features on the Sun's disk called filaments and plages. Occasionally bright solar flares may be seen.   

To get you started our solar observing guide shows the various ways to observe the Sun in complete safely and how to make an observation. Please read this guide before attempting to look at the Sun.

REMEMBER:

  • BE CAREFUL AT ALL TIMES WHEN OBSERVING THE SUN.
     
  • NEVER LOOK OR STARE AT THE SUN WITH THE NAKED EYE AS THIS WILL CAUSE SERIOUS EYE DAMAGE.
     
  • NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN THROUGH ANY OPTICAL DEVICE WITHOUT USING A SAFE SOLAR FILTER FITTED SECURELY OVER THE FRONT OF A TELESCOPE. 
     
  • REMOVE, OR COVER, ALL FINDERSCOPES.
     
  • AVOID ANY EYEPIECE WITH A SOLAR FILTER ON IT.
     
  • IF YOU DON'T WANT TO USE A SOLAR FILTER THEN ONE OF THE EASIEST AND SAFEST WAYS IS TO PROJECT THE SUN'S IMAGE ONTO A WHITE, SHIELDED, SCREEN. IF YOU DO THIS, AVOID TELESCOPES WITH INTERNAL PLASTIC PARTS AS THESE PARTS CAN MELT. 

Any questions? Please email the Solar Section Director, Geoff Elston with your questions.