Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina, USA

First Light for My First H-Alpha Scope

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First Light for My First H-Alpha Scope

I have recently begun to do more solar observing as well as outreach activities during the day.  Additionally next year the United State will be treated to a full solar eclipse such that the path of totality will only be a several hour drive from where I live.  These factors convinced me I needed to improve my arsenal of solar viewing equipment.  To that end, I purchased a used Lunt LS35THa DX solar scope off of CloudyNights.  This 35mm H-Alpha scope has a bandpass of <0.75 Angstroms which allows me to view prominences and some surface detail.

While I did have a quick view when the scope arrived to make sure all was good with the unit, my real first light for this scope was late afternoon on Thursday June 21st, 2016.  I mounted the LS35THa atop my Celestron CG-5 Advanced GT and began to run through a solar system alignment on the Celestron handle controller.  Note to other CG-5 users, if you want to use the Sun as an alignment star, you need “allow” the sun under the solar menu under the Utilities folder.

The Televue Sol-Searcher was dead-on as a finder in centering the sun within the included Lunt 10mm eyepiece providing 40x power.  While the Lunt 10mm eyepiece provides a nice sharp view, the eye relief is a bit tight and the FOV is feels a bit narrow.  I was a bit worried that my Baader Hyperion eyepieces would not reach focus with my new Lunt.  I switched to the Hyperion 5mm providing 80x power.  The view was more comfortable but not as sharp as the 10mm, most likely because I was pushing the magnification over the scope’s theoretical max of 70x (or two times the diameter of the aperture: 35 x 2 = 70).  The eyepiece also needed some cleaning!

I then switched over to the 8mm Hyperion providing 50x.  This magnification was a sweet spot for this telescope and the seeing conditions at that time.  I was able to tune the scope to get some very nice surface detail, including Active Regions (AR) 12565, 12566 & 12567. I was also able to view several areas of incredible prominences on the trailing edge of the sun.  A filament was visible on the surface close to the trailing edge of the sun.  Filaments are just prominences; both are arches of plasma extending off the surface of the sun.  The difference is  we see prominences edge on and filaments we see face on.

I was very skeptical about trying to take a picture through the eyepiece using my iPhone but I was actually quite impressed with what I was able to capture with just one 1/250 of second exposure from an iPhone!  See photo below.  The view in the eyepiece was much more orange/red and not at all pink as the came through on the iPhone image.

click for larger image

I hope to do more solar observing very soon!