Solar Imaging

LatestAlthough I have not been diligent with my posts to my website, I have been active on the Facebook Sidewalk Astronomers of Charlottetown group.

Most of my posts have been related to my imaging efforts. To recap, I purchased a Point Grey CCD camera this year with the intent of doing some astronomy imaging, mostly of the Sun and the Moon.

The camera purchased is particularly matched to my telescopes and built primarily for solar and lunar imaging, although it should work fine on the brighter planets. From what I understand it is not the ideal camera for deep space imaging of nebula, clusters and other dim objects.

As my knowledge of imaging is below the beginner levels, the first attempts were less than acceptable, mostly blurred objects that looked like I had my thumb in front of the lens! So I decided to concentrate on lunar imaging and make solar a secondary target. Everything else would be just an attempt to see what the camera would do.

As we have the Sun more often to image than Moon, I have taken a few pictures with the Lunt 60mm solar scope. As I improved, images got sharper and with more detail. I learned a lot about  the length of exposures needed for solar imaging and how many frames I need to produce a decent image.

My first decent image is this one. It shows the filaments and prominences with nice surface mottling of the chromosphere.


However as the image is taken with a black and white CCD camera, which is recommended as colour cameras are argued to produce less fine detail, I needed to learn how to process the image and add colour.

There are different stages of processing. First there is the processing of the multiple, move-type image file into a single image. Then there is various wavelet image processing which not only brings out very subtle details not previously seen, but enhances the detail already in the image. Finally, there is the colour-izing processing which adds false colour to the image. Colour can make images more appealing and can also enhance detail.

As an example, here is my recently completed processing on the above image, in colour.

I obviously need to improve my talents, but I am happy with my progress considering the very few images I have taken thus far. This is an interesting dimension of astronomy as long as you don’t try to compete with Hubble.

The first lesson one learns is that the camera does indeed see things that you cannot with the naked eye.

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