Sunspot Imaging – 22nd July 2016


SOURCE: SOHO – Solar and Heliospheric Observatory

It’s been so long since I have had the telescope out, I have been getting withdrawal symptoms so, while the kids were busy roller-skating, I thought I would take advantage of the bright, clear sky and try my hand at some solar imaging. I have taken a few snaps before, mostly around the eclipse last year, but haven’t tried capturing detail in sunspots, so that was the plan.

I didn’t have much time, so I just did a basic alignment of the mount and scope, centered on SOL and set the mount to solar tracking rate – which seemed to keep things central so that was good enough for me.

***NB – The images were taken with the addition of a home-made Baader White-Light Solar filter. DO NO try imaging or viewing the sun without a proper filter in place!***

I used my ZWO ASI120MM camera on the telescope to take a number of 60 second videos of sunspots 2565 and 2567. I also used a 2.25x Barlow with the camera for some additional videos to get a bit closer. The videos gave me over 4,000 frames to process, which is probably a bit much, but better to have too many than too few. Next time I might drop the length of the video though as it does take a bit longer to process larger numbers of frames. SHARPCAP was used to collect the images, using a fairly low gain and very short exposure times.

The videos were initially processed in PIPP using the Solar Close-Up and Surface Feature settings and I only kept around 10% of the best frames, leaving me with around 400 to stack. Stacking took place in AUTOSTAKKERT2 and the resulting stacked image was tweaked in REGISTAX, using the wavelets feature, before a quick trim and tidy in Photoshop. If anyone has any questions about this workflow, let me know. I should write a brief tutorial when I get more time.

Anyway, the first image below is without the Barlow in place.

final tiff 2

and the second with the Barlow

Final TiFF

Considering that I was rushing to take advantage of a spare hour, and that I couldn’t see the Laptop screen without holding the remains of a cardboard box over my head, I am very happy with the results and look forward to having another go when there are some more sunspots to look at.

Images are also posted in the Gallery.


Posted on July 23, 2016, in Astronomy, Astrophotography and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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