Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sun funnel done

To get the size of sun funnel I wanted, I had to join two different funnels.  But it works!

Friday, April 20, 2012

More sunspots

I was handholding the projection screen material in front of my scope for a 4-5" image.  Wow!  Today's sunspots were really impressive.

I noticed that they were very much in pairs.  Apparently sunspots come in pairs with opposite magnetic polarity.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sunspots today

A kind soul sent me a 25mm Kellner eyepiece for solar projection purposes for the cost of shipping.  A nice thing about this eyepiece is that the field stop extends quite far from the lens, and will dissipate any sunlight if the sun goes to the edge of the field.

I played with it today to see how far away from the eyepiece I'd need to get to have a 4" image in my 8" F/4.5 (stopped down to two 3" apertures).  Answer: ~26cm.  When I projected the sun on a piece of cardstock, at that size, I was blown away by the richness of the structure of the sunspots today.  And the sun was quite low, as it was shortly before sunset.  Here's today's LMSAL photo.  I saw the two larger groups but somehow missed the smaller group that's down from center.

It's time to build a sun funnel as soon as my projection material comes.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Afocal, Coulter 8" F/4.5, TMB/BO Planetary 6mm eyepiece, with my son's Sony P100 camera.

Hard drive platter as flat mirror

Some time ago, I disassembled some old hard drives with the kids (including one that was donated to the cause by my employer's IT services), and extracted magnets (fun, as long as you're careful) and platters.  The platters gave me the impression of high quality first-surface mirrors, and I've been looking for a use for them.  I've put one into my so far not very successful solar projector project as a heliostat.

I was just playing with looking at stars reflected in this platter through my 15x70 binoculars, with only one eye.  There was some unidirectional glare from Venus, but stars looked pinpoint.  I was only hand-holding the binoculars, so the test isn't great.  And it would have been better if the central hole was blacked out.  This isn't a very demanding test, higher magnification would be much better, but it's a promising start.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


I've never done very well with Mars, and my best views--never that good--have been with an aperture mask.  With full aperture, I just get a red and white blob of chromatic aberration.

I had a 75mm single-hole aperture mask that I was planning to use in my 8" F/4.5 Coulter for solar projection, but tonight I added another hole to it.  Both holes miss the two-vane spider.  The views of Mars with the aperture mask and a 5mm ortho are great--best I've had.  Two dark areas (one was probably Mare Acidalium) and a bit of polar cap.  I don't know if they're better with two holes than with one--there may be better contrast with one--but they are a bit brighter with two, and I love the easy focusing (with the mask, you see double and you focus by merging the images).