Staring @ the Sun, 25
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2/2/2011: A Grab n'Go Solar Kit: Ever since I got back from Tennessee last October, I have not had a chance to sungaze. Trees. Once the Sun moved south of the celestial equator, the yard has been hopeless as a Sun-observing venue. The Sun is still weeks away from coming back into view from any of my usual or otherwise handy locations. But it's spending a little longer every day between the tops of a few inconvenient conifers and the edge of the house. So from about 1:00 in the afternoon until 2:00, I can take a peek if I maneuver between the shadows.
There was this LDX55 / Autostar mount down in the basement which I bought on clearance from Meade many years back thinking of cobbling together some goto pieces for the G11. That project was utterly superceded by the adoption of an A-P Mach1. But that LDX55 still has possibilities. It was originally sold with telescopes as large as a 10-inch F4 Schmidt-Newtonian (I think that was ludicrously ambitious for that mount, but it's telling that some thought the load was plausible). I've been told it works well under 6-inch OTA's and sometimes under larger ones, so I figured it would have no problem with a 60mm sunscope. I even have a "hypertune" kit for it here somewhere if this proves promising.
But first, there was making a mounting rail, wiring up a power supply (I refuse to buy D-cells by the dozen and my rechargeable Tenegra's offer only 1.2v each rather 1.5v; a trial run with them was not fun), and fitting the mount onto a Gitzo tripod (because it's smaller than stock, known to be solid while carrying the 5" refractor and Giro XL in NM, and because there are more than enough tripods standing around here already).
And here's how it works:
For reference, here's the (or "a") recipe to get the LXD55 tracking and available for fine motion control without lots of unnecessary commotion (alignment, goto, targets... bah!):
2/6/2011: The promised solar photo with the LXD55 mount:
See technotes on the next photos.
2/13/2011: After a computer meltdown and recovery, I checked Spaceweather.com and found a large, growing, and complex sunspot nearing the solar meridian. Time to play with new toys and tools. I got lucky:
Lunt LS60Ha DS50, barlowed.
Point Grey Chameleon
2/15/2011. Twin Peaks. The M-flare above was the Cycle 24 record holder for a little more than a day. In the early morning of 2/15, UT, the same active region produced an X2 flare, the most powerful since 2006. It was tough to photograph with the entire bulk of the Earth in the line of sight, but here's the GOES X-ray record:
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