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Solar Observing in Winter

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Peter Meadows's picture
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Joined: 05/03/2014 - 20:15
Solar Observing in Winter

This time of year can be difficult for solar observing – not only because of the cloudier weather but also because of the low altitude of the Sun even at midday.  Most observers will also have to contend with nearby obstructions such as trees and buildings.  One solution is to observe from a high vantage point.  This is what the solar observers at Mt Wilson Observatory near Los Angeles do: they use the aptly named 150-Foot Solar Tower.

This video https://www.kcet.org/shows/socal-connected/mount-wilson-observatory-0 shows one of the observers, Steve Padilla, on his last official day at the observatory in 2013 although he is still observing in his retirement. The video shows Steve making a drawing and determining the polarity of individual sunspots.  The latest Mt Wilson drawing can be found at http://obs.astro.ucla.edu/cur_drw.html.  The video captions can be switched off by pressing the ‘CC’ button and selecting ‘Captions off’.

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That's a great video although

That's a great video although I think my neighbours would complain if I built one of those in the garden. The drawings are really nice to look at and are a great continuation of the historical record with that tower. It's a shame that they will probably stop when Steve is unable to make that rather hairy looking journey up in the basket.

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Joined: 27/11/2016 - 11:04
winter solar observing.

Living on a modern housing estate with houses closely packed, I do my winter solar observing through an open upstairs window. It does limit the times that I can observe, but it also provides some protection from the wind. With an 80mm refractor, it can easily be moved to suit the sun's position. Seeing will always be limited by looking over adjacent roof tops with the central heating on, but it usualy does work fine. I did get a look around Mt Wilson back in 1991, but no solar viewing then!