Skies By Africa

Images of the Heavens By Eric Africa

The Sun

The Sun is the closest star to the Earth. It is the source energy for almost all life on Earth. It is a dynamic body, with ever-changing features across its surface. At least when it's not during times of Solar Minimum (the designation for the period during its 11-year cycle when few to no sunspots are visible). The Sun was emerging from an unusually long period of Solar Minimum in 2010, when I started imaging the sun using a Hydrogen-Alpha filter. The solar H-alpha filter passes exactly the same wavelength of light as the deep-sky H-alpha filters I use for my nighttime deep sky images. However, the solar filter is a very different filter from the nightsky H-alpha filter. While the nighttime H-alpha filter is a glass disk permeated with the necessary coatings and filter materials to filter out all but the light of ionized hydrogen from faint deep sky objects, the solar H-alpha filter is a double system consisting of a front energy-rejection filter placed in front of the telescope's optics plus a second, blocking filter at the eyepiece end. The Sun is a very intense light source; there is no way that a deep-sky H-alpha filter can be used to safely gaze at the Sun. In other words, DON'T LOOK at the SUN WITHOUT A FILTER properly tuned and certified as safe for solar gazing.

The Sun in 2010 2010 2011
The Sun in 2012 2012