Solar Astronomy: Observing, imaging & studying the Sun

By Christian Viladrich (Ed.) Reviewed by Andrew Devey
Axilone 2021480 pages
Price £59.71ISBN:979-10-92974-08-9


This is a revised and extended English translation of the 2018 book Astronomie Solaire. The goal of the book is clearly stated: ‘To provide a comprehensive guide to solar observation techniques including examples and advice for the beginner as well as the seasoned amateur’. It combines the expertise of 14 leading amateur solar astronomers under the editorship of the main contributor, Christian Viladrich, who is an outstanding solar imager with over 40 years of experience.

The 480-page book is of large format, totalling 16 chapters and including about twelve hundred high-quality illustrations/images. It is divided into three parts:

Part 1 – Discovering the Sun. The first two chapters provide an overview of the long history of solar observation and also a brief description of the main features observable on our star.

Part 2 – Observation, equipment and techniques. The second part starts with the phenomena obtainable to the amateur and an in-depth discussion of all aspects of solar observation. Other chapters include: essential warnings on eye safety, instrument/atmospheric turbulence and the different types of telescope designs for solar observation. Further chapters detail observation of the photosphere and chromosphere, together with the required instrumentation and associated filters. The coronograph and a variety of examples of home-made, specialised solar telescopes used by the contributors are included. Drawing, image acquisition, image processing and radio solar astronomy as well as observing and imaging solar eclipses form the additional chapters that complete this part.

Part 3 – Observing projects. Two final chapters are on the presentation of various observing programmes that can be undertaken by the amateur, and on how solar activity can also be followed online thanks to the large number of resources that are available on the Web.

The level of detail presented, the diversity of topics covered and the quality of images included have resulted in a book that is also of great use to planetary and lunar imagers. In my view, this work not only delivers but vastly exceeds its original goal, as it provides real inspiration through the easy guides, logical workflows and outstanding images that have been skilfully obtained by each contributor. It is a fascinating read and an astonishing compendium, that I believe will become widely regarded as the definitive work on this subject for many years to come

Andrew Devey is a member of the Mexborough & Swinton Astronomical Society and a regular contributor to the BAA Solar Section.

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