Looking forward to starting some sunspot counting!

Affiliation
American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)
Mon, 11/30/2020 - 02:19

Hi all,

Greetings from Houston. :)

The return of the sunspots has piqued my interest in joining yall in doing the daily sunspot and group counts.  This is something I've been wanting to do for quite some time -- I've always had an interest in the changing face of the sun.  

I followed along with the recent CHOICE course (thank you, Raffaello!) and that cemented my interest.

Part of my delay is that I know myself.  :)  I know that in order for me to be consistent with this, I need to be using the right scope for me.  (Especially when things get back to "normal" and I may not be working from home.)  I have several scopes with solar filters on eq mounts, but they are either too unweildy or heavy to take outside between meetings and classes.  I need to keep setup and tear down time to an absolute minimum, especially when the Houston summers come around again.

So this evening, after some thought, I put together a grab-and-go setup.  I have an alt-az AstroTech Voyager mount (excellent slow motion controls) and I coupled it with a 66mm apochromatic refractor left over from my DSLR imaging days.  (Its native focal length is a bit short -- 388mm -- but a barlow can take care of that.)

This setup is incredily lightweight and I can take it in and out of the garage with one hand.  Perfect.

The only thing it is missing is a solar filter.  :D   I solved that by just ordering one from Thousand Oaks tonight.  

Once that arrives, I look forward to joining yall!

(One of my other hobbies is amateur radio, so I might also venture into the SID stuff at a later time, too.)

--Michael in Houston (RMW)

Affiliation
American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)

Thanks, Rodney.

My solar filter arrived yesterday and I did my first count today (and uploaded it in SunEntry).

Here's a link to a photo of my setup:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/73132455@N06/50680015346/in/dateposted-public/

Very basic, eminently portable, and absolutely no fuss; it's perfect!  One nice thing about a refractor with a short native focal length is that even just a relatively rough minimizing of the shadow on the ground, the sun is usually in the field of view of my 26mm eyepiece (15x).  I can then use a barlow with my other eyepieces to get up to the desired 40-60x.  (I still may construct a rudimentary "sun finder" just to make things even easier.) 

Looking forward to doing this every clear morning.  It's a great way to start the day.  :)

--Michael in Houston (RMW)

Affiliation
American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)

Greetings Michael,

Congratulations on starting sunspot counting. Due to the fact that my setup is a bit unstable (70mm f/10 refractor on a eq1 mount),I had a hard time working with one or two eyepieces and a barlow to achieve a high magnification. I bought a zoom eyepiece and made the whole endeavor a lot easier. Just my small advice if I can be of any help.

Best regards,

Georgios.

Affiliation
American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)

Hi Georgios,

That is an excellent idea on the zoom eyepiece.  I've been thinking about getting one on-and-off over the years.  I've always declined as the apparent field can get a bit small; however, for solar observing that really isn't an issue.  As I'm trying to make my setup as simple as possible (to encourage me to observe whenever the sky conditions permit) I think I may look into one.

--Michael in Houston (RMW)