Sunday, November 9, 2014

solar active region AR 2192: the monster revisited

here's a wider view of the monster sunspot grouping i caught just before the recent partial eclipse.
according to one source, this grouping, known as AR 2192 is one of the largest sunspot groupings in recorded history

fortunately, it arrived at a time when i was working on my sunspot technique and had made great strides, imaging structures i'd never been able to catch before.  specifically, the honeycomb-like granular structure on the bright surface and the and the "penumbral filaments" at the edge of the dark spot (best seen around the large spot to the right). 

"Granules on the photosphere of the Sun are caused by convection currents (thermal columns, BĂ©nard cells) of plasma within the Sun's convective zone. The rising part of the granules is located in the center where the plasma is hotter. The outer edge of the granules is darker due to the cooler descending plasma." (Wikipedia)
These convection currents contribute to the sun's magnetic field.

the penumbral filaments at the edge of the dark spot aren't that well understood (at least by me).  they seem to involve an interaction between magnetic fields of different orientations and convective flow.
magneto-convective cell reference

the sun rotates once every 27 days or so
will be interesting to see if this grouping comes back around.  

the key to the improved image was taking a huge number of frames over a short period and discarding all but the very best.  to do this i had to use a different camera with a smaller field of view and faster frame rate.  unfortunately, the field of view was smaller than this large grouping.

compare the detail (especially the fine filaments) on this small high frame-rate field to the right side above:

i tried a mosaic in an attempt to get a wider field and high frame rate, but it came out to too patchy

for reference here's a prior image at the same scale:

IMAGE improvement DETAILS
the following measures gave improved images:
1. switched cameras from DMK 51 to zwo ASI120MC which allows a much higher frame rate.
-DMK is great for wide full disk animations, but limited to 12 fps-i'd misread the framerate as 60 fps-that's the output avi :(
using a partial frame with the zwo got me to an average of 54 fps which overcame the handicap of the color camera
2. much smaller stack: took only the best 20 or so images at the upward curve to the left of registax stackgraph quality indicator.
3. kept the imaging time very short--20 seconds
4. put the solar filter (baader film) on the scope inside and immediately pointed it at the sun when i brought it outside.
-the charcoal black carbon fiber tube heats up very quickly with direct sunlight. rather than insulate, i figured the film would reflect the energy immediately, keeping the tube out of direct light. 

i think the biggest factor was limiting the stack size
which means i can reprocess some of my older images :)

did not recollimate
tried an off-axis mask prior to these changes with no improvement
no change in focus technique

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