Awesome Photo Shows Monster Sunspot Aiming Our Way

It’s a-comin’: a “monster” sunspot is steadily rotating around the Sun’s southern hemisphere and will soon be in position to fire flares and CMEs in our direction — and this past weekend master solar photographer Alan Friedman captured it on camera!

The image above was taken in full-spectrum visible light on Sunday, Oct. 19 by Alan from his backyard in Buffalo, New York. Sunspots 2186 (at the top limb), 2187 (upper center), 2193 (the small middle cluster) and the enormous AR2192 are easily visible as dark blotches – “cooler” regions on the Sun’s surface where upwelling magnetic fields interrupt the convective processes that drive the Sun’s energy output.

This particular image was a single frame of video, unlike some of Alan’s other photographs. According to Alan the air turbulence was particularly bad that day, shooting between the clouds, so only this one frame was usable. Click the image for full-scale “wow” factor.

(And if you think AR2192 looks scary in that image, check it out in CaK bands here!)

Scale size of Earth compared to AR2192 on Oct. 20 (NASA/SDO/AIA. Edit by J. Major.)
Scale size of Earth compared to AR2192 on Oct. 20 (NASA/SDO/AIA. Diagram by J. Major.)

According to Spaceweather.com AR2192 has grown considerably over the past few days and has the potential to unleash M- and X-class flares in our direction now that it’s moving into Earth-facing position. It’s currently many times larger than Earth and will likely get even bigger… in fact, during this week’s partial solar eclipse AR2192 should be visible with the naked (but not unprotected!) eye for viewers across much of North America.

See more of Alan’s photography on his Averted Imagination site here (with prints available for purchase) and watch a TEDx presentation by Alan on how and why he does solar photography.

Image © Alan Friedman. Used with permission.

Enjoy This Eye-Meltingly Awesome Photo of Our Sun

Here’s yet another glorious photo of our home star, captured and processed by New York artist and photographer Alan Friedman on August 24, 2014. Alan took the photo using his 90mm hydrogen-alpha telescope – aka “Little Big Man” –  from his backyard in Buffalo, inverted the resulting image and colorized it to create the beautiful image above. Fantastic!

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in our Sun. The “surface” of the Sun and the layer just above it — the photosphere and chromosphere — are regions where atomic hydrogen exists profusely in upper-state form, and it’s these layers that hydrogen alpha photography reveals in the most detail.

In Alan’s image from Aug. 24 several active sunspot regions can be seen, as well as long snaking filaments (which show up bright in this inverted view – in optical light they appear darker against the face of the Sun) and several prominences rising up along the Sun’s limb, one of which along the left side stretching completely off the frame a hundred thousand miles into space!

Click here to see the image above as well as some close-ups from the same day on Alan’s astrophotography website AvertedImagination.com. And you can learn more about how (and why) Alan makes such beautiful images of our home star here.

Photo © Alan Friedman. All rights reserved.

A Stunning Image of our Home Star

Active regions 2108 and 2109 are now passing around the limb of the Sun, but not before solar photography specialist Alan Friedman grabbed a few pictures of them on Friday!   The image above, captured by Alan from his location in Buffalo, NY, shows the two large sunspots nestled in a forest of solar spicules while a large detached prominence hovers several Earth-diameters inside the corona. A beautiful snapshot of our home star!

Captured in hydrogen-alpha wavelengths, the image above has been colored by Alan, rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise, and inverted from the original. The sunspots and standing prominence are cooler in Ha than the surrounding chromosphere and corona, and so actually photograph darker.

A view of sunspot 2109 in visible light can be seen below:

AR2109 photographed by Alan Friedman on July 11, 2014.
AR2109 photographed by Alan Friedman on July 11, 2014.

Sunspots are the result of magnetic fields rising up from deep within the Sun, preventing convection from occurring in large areas on the Sun’s surface and thereby creating relatively cooler regions we see as dark spots. They can often be many times the size of Earth and can be sources of powerful solar flares.

See these and more images by Alan on his blog here.

Images © Alan Friedman. All rights reserved.

Catching Sunlight: A TEDx Talk by DIY Solar Photographer Alan Friedman

Video poster frame shows Alan Friedman’s 90mm hydrogen alpha telescope setup — nicknamed “Little Big Man” — on an Astro-Physics 900 equatorial mount.

We’ve featured several beautiful images of the Sun here on Universe Today, captured by the talented Alan Friedman from his backyard telescope in Buffalo, NY. While photos of the Sun in and of themselves are nothing new in astronomy, Alan’s images always seem to bring out the best in our home star. Maybe it’s the magical nature of hydrogen alpha photography, maybe it’s Alan’s fancy new Grasshopper CCD camera, maybe the Sun’s photosphere was looking particularly nice on those days… but most likely Alan just has an innate skill for solar photography (as well as one for picking out great hats!)

In the video above, Alan talks to an audience at a TEDx event in Buffalo on October 9, sharing some of his photos and explaining why he does what he does, and why he feels do-it-yourself astrophotography is such a valuable thing to share with others. It’s a great bit of insight from a talented artist (and you just might recognize the names he drops at 13:55!)

I was happy to share one of Alan’s images on my own website back in 2010, which Phil Plait (the “Bad Astronomer,” who was then with Discover Magazine) picked up on and soon enough the whole thing got Alan quite a bit of attention. Which, when you’re an astrophotographer and graphic artist (he also sells art prints of his work as well as runs a greeting card studio) is never a bad thing.

Image of the Sun in hydrogen alpha. ©2010 Alan Friedman. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

You can see more of Alan’s work on his Averted Imagination blog and website and, on occasion, here on Universe Today!

A Shimmering, Simmering Sunspot

This quick animation made by astrophotographer Alan Friedman shows a 30-minute view of sunspot 1520, a large region of magnetic activity on the Sun that’s currently aimed directly at Earth. Although 1520 has been quiet for the past couple of days, it’s loaded with a delta-class magnetic field — just right for launching powerful X-class flares our way. There’s no guarantee that it will, but then there’s no guarantee that it won’t either.

(Click the image to play the animation.)

Alan captured the images from his location in upstate New York using a 10″ Astro-Physics scope and PGR Grasshopper CCD. A master at solar photography — several of his hydrogen alpha images have been featured here on Universe Today as well as other popular astronomy news sites — Alan’s work never fails to impress.

A static, color version of sunspot 1520 can be seen here… what Alan calls “a magnetic beauty.”

Although the sunspots don’t change much over the course of the animation, the surrounding texture on the Sun’s photosphere can be seen to shift and move rapidly. These bright kernels are called granules, and are created by convective currents on the Sun. An individual granule typically lasts anywhere from 8 to 20 minutes and can be over 600 miles (1000 km) across.

The overall wavering effect is caused by distortion from Earth’s atmosphere.

While 1520 is facing Earth we’re subject to any flares or CMEs that may erupt from it, potentially sending a solar storm our way. In another week or so it will have rotated safely around the Sun’s limb and eventually dissipate altogether… but then, it is solar maximum and so there’s likely to be more active regions just like it (or even larger!) coming around the bend.

When they do come, there’s a good chance that Alan will grab some pics of those too.

Check out more of Alan’s photography on his site AvertedImagination.com.

Image © Alan Friedman. All rights reserved.

 

The “Deep Blue Sea” of the Sun

Looking like an intricate pen-and-ink illustration, the complex and beautiful structures of the Sun’s surface come to life in yet another stunning photo by Alan Freidman, captured from the historic Mount Wilson Observatory near Los Angeles, California.

Click below for the full-size image in all its hydrogen alpha glory.


An oft-demonstrated master of solar photography, Alan took the image above while preparing for the transit of Venus on June 5 — which he also skillfully captured on camera (see a video below).

Hydrogen is the most abundant element found on the sun. The sun’s “surface” and the layer just above it — the photosphere and chromosphere, respectively — are regions where atomic hydrogen exists profusely in upper-state form. It’s these absorption layers that hydrogen alpha imaging reveals in detail.

The images above are “negatives”… check out a “positive” version of the same image here.

” The seeing was superb… definitely the best of the visit and among the best solar conditions I’ve ever experienced,” Alan writes on his blog.

The video below was made by Alan on June 5, showing Venus transiting the Sun while both passed behind a tower visible from the Observatory.

Alan’s work is always a treat… see more of his astrophotography on his website AvertedImagination.com.

Image © Alan Friedman. All rights reserved.

Super Moon? How About a Super Sun!

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On May 5, 2012, while everyone else was waiting for the “Super Moon” astrophotographer Alan Friedman was out capturing this super image of a super Sun from his back yard in Buffalo, NY!

Taken with a specialized telescope that can image the Sun in hydrogen alpha light, Alan’s photo shows the intricate detail of our home star’s chromosphere — the layer just above its “surface”, or photosphere.

Prominences can be seen rising up from the Sun’s limb in several places, and long filaments — magnetically-suspended  lines of plasma — arch across its face. The “fuzzy” texture is caused by smaller features called spicules and fibrils, which are short-lived spikes of magnetic fields that rapidly rise up from the surface of the Sun.

On the left side it appears that a prominence may have had just detached from the Sun’s limb, as there’s a faint cloud of material suspended there.

Alan masterfully captures the Sun’s finer details in his images on a fairly regular basis… see more of his solar (and lunar, and… vintage headwear) photography on his blog site here.

Image © Alan Friedman. All rights reserved.

ISS Caught Between the Moon and New York City

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Now as the theme from Arthur plays in your head you can enjoy this GIF animation of the ISS passing across the face of a daytime Moon, photographed by Alan Friedman from his location in upstate New York.

I know it’s crazy, but it’s true.

Alan captured these images at 10:30 a.m. EST back on September 2, 2007, and slowed down the animation a bit; in real-time the event lasted less than half a second. (Click the image for an even larger version.)

Atmospheric distortion creates the “wobbly” appearance of the Moon.

Alan Friedman is a talented photographer, printer (and avid vintage hat collector) living in Buffalo, NY. His images of the Sun in hydrogen alpha light are second-to-none and have been featured on many astronomy websites. When he’s not taking amazing photos of objects in the sky he creates beautiful hand-silkscreened greeting cards at his company Great Arrow Graphics.

See more of Alan’s astrophotography on his website, Averted Imagination.

Image © Alan Friedman. All rights reserved.

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NOTE: Although this article previously stated that the images were taken Jan. 12, 2012, they were actually captured in September 2007 and re-posted on Jan. 13 of this year. Alan states that he’s since learned how to judge exposure so the ISS doesn’t appear as a streak, but personally he likes (as do I) how this one came out.

Let’s see… September 2007… that would have been Expedition 15!