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 Branching “Tree” of Solar Plasma

Hydrogen-alpha photo of the Sun by Alan Friedman

An enormous tree-shaped prominence spreads its “branches” tens of thousands of miles above the Sun’s photosphere in this image, a section of a photo acquired in hydrogen alpha (Ha) by Alan Friedman last week from his backyard in Buffalo, NY.

Writes Alan on his blog, “gotta love a sunny day in November!”

Check out the full image — along with an idea of just how big this “tree” is — after the jump:

Taken through a special solar telescope and a Grasshopper CCD camera, Alan’s gorgeous solar photos show the Sun in a wavelength absorbed by atomic hydrogen — most present in the photosphere and chromosphere — thus revealing the complex and dynamic activity of the Sun’s “surface”.

Here’s the full image:

The dark circle at upper left (added by me) shows approximately the scale size of Earth (12,756 km, or about 7,926 miles diameter.) As you can see, that particular prominence is easily six times that in altitude, and spreads out many more times wider… and this isn’t even a particularly large prominence! As far as solar activity goes, this is a non-event. (Not like what was seen by SDO on Nov. 16!)

Regardless, it makes for an impressive backyard photo.

Check out more of Alan’s photos on his blog and on his website, AvertedImagination.com. Many of his photos, some of which have been shown at galleries across the U.S., are available as limited-edition prints. (Alan also runs a greeting card print studio.) I’ve found that he usually shares at least a couple of fantastic solar shots every month, if not more.

Image © Alan Friedman. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

 

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.