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Monday, June 04, 2012

Moon Missing, Sun Spotted

So last night I was puttering around before bed, when something caught my eye through the skylight. Oh! It's just the half moon. Well, that's all...wait...the moon is full. What's it doing half? Must be an eclipse. And, indeed it was. Funny, I hadn't heard about it. Must've been concentrating too hard on the transit of Venus tomorrow. Anyway I rushed out to see if I could get a pic. I had to prop the camera up against the porch railing, and hold it carefully in place, anchoring my left arm around a convenient spiderweb, but it turned out pretty well, considering:

Partial lunar eclipse, June 4, 2012

Turns out it's very scary outside at night. There were evil little rustlings, punctuated by tiny thuds, as if small yet vicious rodents were sneaking up on you. And then there were simply ghastly gnawing sounds, like the small vicious rodents nibbling the bones of previous unwary night photographers. But the former turned out to be the dropping of failed baby avocados, and the latter were the palm fronds rubbing one another.

There was also the occasional hideous shriek, but those didn't bother me; that was just the deer.

During the day today wasn't nearly as scary. As practice for tomorrow's festivities, I tried taking a picture of the sun through a solar viewer (that is, a piece of specially-made dark film, mounted in cardboard, that I very professionally held in front of the lens). But at least I used the tripod. I don't think it turned out badly:

The Sun! June 4, 2012

(I have just realized that the image names here say 20120603, but it was really 20120604)

You can see sunspots! Barely. Here's a quick-n-dirty enhancement using an unsharp mask. Sunspots are labeled. Click for a larger image.

Image above with unsharp mask applied, with sunspot groups labeled.

Yeah, yeah, I know -- kind of looks like a crayon drawing. But it's real!

Compare with this image from the Solar Dynamics Observatory's Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager:

SDO/HMI Intensitygram

That image came from here. I rotated it 90 degrees, scaled it down, and added the sunspot labels. Found those at, but there wasn't a permanent link. Any errors are mine.

So, really, that's pretty good for a cheap $200 camera. The gazillion-dollar solar satellite makes much prettier pictures, though.

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