Photographing the Sun

Please use caution when viewing the sun! Viewing the sun without proper protection could damage your imaging equipment or vision! Sunglasses and standard ND filters are NOT sufficient protection!

This week has been a busy one in terms of solar activity with sunspot AR1476 taking center stage. It's fairly large as sunspots go at roughly 7.5 times the size of the Earth and actually visible to the unaided eye with proper viewing protection. Any set of eclipse viewing glasses will allow you to safely view the spot. I recommend the AWB glasses from Woodland Hills Telescopes. The proceeds from the glasses go towards Astronomers Without Borders. Surprisingly enough the spot hasn't sent any massive flares or ejection our way as of this post.

Photographing solar phenomena isn't quite as hard as it seems. Using my usual Induro BHD1 ball head, a sturdy tripod, the Orion Short Tube 80, glass solar filter, and Nikon D7000 with appropriate adapters I managed to capture the shot below. The trickiest part is actually aiming the scope at the sun. The best way I've found so far is to watch the telescope's shadow and adjust its positioning until the shadow appears its smallest. Sort of like viewing a sun dial at noon. Of course none of this is a problem with higher end go-to models.

Conjunction Sunspot AR1476 - Nikon D7000 - ISO 400 1/500, Orion ST80

Yes that photo really was taken in the middle of the day. Good solar filters knock out around 99% of the incoming light, hence the black sky. The orange tint is due to the filter glass, the sun is actually closer to white in color. I have some Baader solar film on order that will hopefully be here later this week. Apparently it produces a less color shifted image. It's hard to get ahold of right now since most of the solar filter equipment is on back order due to the approaching transit of Venus.

Even if you're telescope-less a set of eclipse glasses are a cheap and easy way to checkout our nearest star. They'll be especially useful this June for the transit. Which, by the way, is the last one for the 21st century. You won't get another shot.