It’s all Howard’s Fault :-)

Today I had planned to go motorcycling – not something I’ve had the chance to do that often recently… Then Howard messaged me, enquiring about Solar imaging software and my brain switched from biking to imaging!

This morning the sun shone!! So, I thought I might spend an hour playing with the new club telescope I’m learning to use – that was 0930. The hour passed, along with a few others, and the motorbike eventually came out of the garage at 1600! But I am thankful to Howard for prompting me, as the sun was unusually busy (unlike recent months) with plenty of surface activity and flares around the edges. So, the challenge was on.

This is my setup – Daystar 60mm Solarscout telescope, Equatorial Mount to track across the sky, AltAir GPCam, laptop and crutches! Our club recently sold a Lunt Solar Scope to purchase this for ease of use – members can borrow it for a month at a time – it is an incredibly good value scope for sure.

First image of the day – a couple of sunspots. Not seen any for a while so a welcome view.

Some more surface activity and a pretty hefty flare on the rim.

Both these images are one minute of 7ms video frames that are stacked together in a free bit of software called Autostakkert and then processed in Registax (another free bit of software). Conditions were challenging today because it was so hot – the live images on the laptop screen were moving as the atmosphere rippled with the heat, so it always amazes me what the software is able to do. I moved around the face of the sun for a while, exploring different areas and trying different camera settings.

Normally I would have stopped at this point but I then wondered how I could go about producing an image of the full disc of the Sun. My camera/scope combination means I need 12 separate images to cover the full face of the Sun – I’ve never done this before so this was a complete experiment. Each “panel” took 60 seconds to capture and another 5 minutes in software to process before moving onto the next. I then attempted to stitch them together in photoshop (which took me ages!!) I have a heck of a lot to learn! Alignment is difficult and the exposure changes as the sun rises, affected by very thin layers of cloud (almost invisible to the naked eye) that were passing by at times, as well as atmospheric conditions.

The result is below…

For a first attempt I am quite pleased – but you can see where the different panels meet and there is slight distortion (a result, I think, of alignment issues). I do need to learn how to better merge and blend layers in Photoshop, but I like a challenge 🙂 Any hints and tips from PS gurus will be most welcome…

So, thank you Howard for prompting me to change tack this morning and have a go at something I had not attempted before.

Next week I go into isolation and then hospital for a new hip (finally!! Only two years overdue) so Solar imaging may be out for a while, but I am hoping for some clear night skies and a return to some deep sky imaging from the comfort of my bed.

Thank you for reading my ramblings.

Published in Member Blogs
  1. Everything is Howard’s fault 🤣

  2. Excellent Charles, I wouldn’t even know where to start. Good luck with the hip as well as they don’t let you stay in bed very long.

  3. Brexit wasn’t my fault! Anytime you want to be distracted Charles I can help. My attempt at the full disc didn’t work as well as I wanted. I need to get better focussing and tracking.
    Looking forward to seeing what you get today 😉

  4. Thanks Howard. Sadly no imaging today – last day on the wards before isolation. Typically we have thunderstorms forecast for next couple of days – maybe some lightning photography?

  5. Hey Charles – an immersive and fascinating image, and it will be Hip, Hip, Hooray! before you know it. Or, Hip, Hooray! if only doing the one (:O))))). Best wishes to you for the op.

  6. Another WOW, thanks for telling us how you achieved this

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