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Sun closeup

At this observatory, my focus is mainly on solar astronomy. I use special filters to look at the Sun in H-alpha (656.2nm) and Calcium K-line (393.3nm) wavelengths. These filters show me different interesting phenomena happening on the Sun's surface.

The H-alpha filter helps me keep an eye on solar flares, protuberances, and Ellerman bombs. These are small but very bright explosions on the Sun's lower chromosphere. They usually happen in places with strong magnetic fields and near emerging flux regions. Even though they're small compared to the Sun, Ellerman bombs are enormous on a human scale. Just one of them releases as much energy as 100,000 atomic bombs that were used in World War II. Yet, they still look tiny next to a single sunspot.
With Calcium K-line filter I observe sunspots and faculae, these pale tendrils have almost the appearance of a spider web and they indicate the presence of strong magnetic fields around sunspots. This filter operates in the near-ultraviolet light, passing only a very specific bandwidth through and is passively cooled by a heat-sink. In comparison, the layer of the photosphere seen with this filter exists slightly beneath than the layer observed using Hydrogen-alpha filter. The capacity to analyze both the Calcium K and Hydrogen-alpha lines offers important insights into the structure of our nearest star.

The roof of the observatory opens only partially, as the views are only needed to southern half of the sky. Pair of heavy duty linear actuators work in parallel to open and close the roof, making it possible to get observing in a matter of minutes. This is important as the sun evolves constantly and a solar flare can only last less than ten minutes before disappearing completely.
As with the Castle of Clouds, this building will also be fully automated but is currently under final construction and development.

The building currently houses an 80mm f/7 air-spaced doublet, I have taken
filters from a smaller, commercial 60mm Hydrogen-alpha solar telescope and retrofitted in this telescope using 3D printed adapters. The Calcium K-line assembly is a commercial product manufactured by Antlia and I can swap it to the same telescope easily. In the future I might run two telescopes parallel to each-other with different bandwidth filters enabling simultaneous imaging of both emission lines.

Mechanical design

During the winter months, observing the sun isn't particularly rewarding because it hovers low on the horizon. The closer an object is to the horizon, the more it's affected by atmospheric turbulence, which tends to blur out fine details. However, the winter season offers an excellent opportunity for observing celestial objects like the moon and planets, which ascend high into the night sky. In preparation for this I switch from my solar telescope to a larger 200/1200mm Newtonian reflector, specifically customized for capturing the intricate beauty of planets and the moon. On the right you can see the planet Jupiter and few of it's brightest moons.

Lunar imaging is also a rewarding part of the hobby, every night the lighting is a little bit different as the angle of sunlight hitting the moon's surface changes. This creates an ever-changing dance of light and shadow that is always so fascinating to me.

Unveiling Solar System Wonders

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