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.
I hope to do more solar observing very soon!