Sometimes the solar action can be enticing enough to set up the PST (Personal Solar Telescope) and sketch when the weather permits.
March 30th Easter Saturday was one such day. When I looked through my telescope there was a long twisting filament. Interesting north limb prominences challenged my eye as they altered their shapes over time.
When observing the sun you do not see the movement right in front of your eye. The sun is 149,600,000 km away from Earth and it takes eight minutes for its light to get to us. The observation of movement is perceived over 15 to 20 minutes and can lead to very useful sequences of drawings. In one way it’s like real time natural stop motion animation. Because my solar telescope is small the enormous solar disc (Diameter 1.39 million km) appears to be less than the 40mm diameter of the telescope. The filaments, active regions, sunspots and prominences are very tiny to the eye. A sunspot or prominence can be many times the size of the Earth but only millimetres to the eye. When I draw I look really really closely at the shapes, and textures of these features.
I pay great attention to the negative spaces, the black spaces between the multiple strands of plasma gas that are launched into space by the suns continuous activity.
Before I draw I observed the action for a while before deciding on an approach. It is difficult to draw filaments as they appear to the eye on the solar disc. Filaments can be very dark against the bright sun or very grey almost like stringy cobwebs. Filaments are eruptions of electrified plasma gas; they seem dark as they are cooler than the sun that created them. When a filament continues its action over the edge of the solar disc it is called a prominence. More structural detail within these features can be seen against the blackness of space. When a filament is seen to swing its action from the solar disc around the limb is it known as a filaprom.
For this drawing I used an etching method for the filaments, the combination of etching and drawing seems to give the desired effect for the moment.
Sketch details: Bray Co Wicklow
Easter Saturday North Limb proms and filaments on the solar disc.
Duration of sketching time 13:00 UT - 13:55 UT Telescope: PST 40mm - 8 mm eyepiece using Pastels, on black paper.
On the same evening I was lucky to get a glimpse of Comet C 2011 L4 PanSTARRS from Bray
Click here for details
Warning: NEVER look directly at the sun through binoculars, a telescope or with your unaided eye
permanent blindness can result from the shortest look. Only ever look at the Sun in a situation supervised by someone who knows what they're doing.