The Half-Astrophysicist Blog

A Spotty Sunset

I don’t post all my sunset pics here…if you want to see them you can follow me on twitter or Google+. I will post some of the more interesting ones here and tonight falls into that category.

There are some pretty good sunspots today. By underexposing the Sun quite a bit, you can bring out the sunspots. I got them just as the Sun was setting behind a mountain.


I waited around for the green flash of course.


Tonight I also took a quick shot toward Kitt Peak. Late next week, the Sun will set behind Kitt Peak and I will be trying to get that shot!



October 23, 2013 Posted by | Astrophotography, Atmospheric Physics, Green Flash, Kitt Peak, Solar Photography, Sunset | , , | 2 Comments

A Spotty Sunset

Low clouds dotted the western horizon at sunset in Tucson tonight. However, that is not all bad. They can slightly dim the setting Sun making it easier to photograph sunspots. Today there were plenty of good sized sunspots. These pics were taken with my Canon 60D and 70-300mm zoom lens (at 300mm).



If you want to compare it to today’s Sun, check out the Spaceweather archive. Note, due to an effect called field rotation, the Sun is my pics is rotated 90 degrees clockwise relative to the image on Spaceweather.

May 1, 2013 Posted by | Astrophotography, Solar Photography, Sunset, sunspots | , | Leave a comment

Gearing Up For Solar Photography

Now I suspect a lot of you would love to try a little solar photography someday but are worried about the cost. You may even be looking at the upcoming annular eclipse on May 20th or the Transit of Venus on June 5/6 (depending on which side of the International Date Line you are on) and wish you could photograph it but think you need lots of expensive equipment.

Well, I am not the wealthiest person in the world so I always try and find ways to do things inexpensively. Regular readers know that my camera is a Canon Digital Rebel Xti which can be picked up inexpensively on eBay. I have several lenses I have bought over the years. The two zoom lenses are the Canon EF-S 55-250mm zoom lens and the EF 70-300 USM zoom lens (got used for $90). I use these two lenses for my sunset green flash pictures.

To take a pic of sunspots, a partial eclipse, or the transit of Venus, however, you are going to need a solar filter. You can always buy some solar film and make your own, but a company called Rainbow Symphony makes solar filters ready to go. I have bought a variety of stuff from them over the years and had good luck with them. I bought the 60mm solar filter and it fits over the end of both my lenses like a glove. It even snaps into place like it was built for these lenses.

So I took my camera outside, found the sun and snapped a shot.

Not a lot of action up there today,but you can see the smudge toward the right side which is sunspot 1450. I didn’t do any adjustments to the photo except cropping and took it with all automatic camera settings (with the flash turned off…the camera sees all that dark area and wants to fire a flash!)

So a rather humble beginning, but I am sure I will get somewhat better results as I experiment with manual settings. I will be working with the camera in preparation for the May 20th annular solar eclipse and the June 4th transit of Venus. I am sure many people have comparable cameras and could get interesting photos.  Oh, and don’t forget, we are heading toward a probable solar maximum in 2013 so a $10 solar filter is not a bad accessory to buy now!

April 6, 2012 Posted by | Astrophotography, Solar Photography, Sun | | 2 Comments