My Top Astronomical Experience of 2011

Ever since I was young and got my first telescope I’ve always wanted to see the sun. Of course you can’t actually look at the sun, at least not directly. My first telescope was something that might have been featured on the “Cheap Astronomy” podcast—a three inch Newtonian but it came with a projection screen eyepiece attachment. I tried in vain to see sunspots and I guess, since then, that’s been my obsession. I’ve wanted to see the sun and learn as much as I can about it.

A few years ago I was able to start viewing the sun through a larger Newtonian equipped with a solar filter. I could see sunspots. Of course there was much more to see but with that equipment I wasn’t able to.

2011 was the year! I got a PST, my first hydrogen alpha solar telescope. The things that I have seen. Although I can see sunspots if I detune it, I can see convection cells, prominences, plages, and filaments. The first time that I saw a prominence it looked like a whisker or hair off the end of the sun. I called it a “whispy”. Since that time I have seen several. Most notably in early September, watching a prominence I was able, over a period of 25 minutes to see movement in a prominence. The Sun was alive! That was breathtaking!

I hope in 2012 to see more and it is my hope to get a larger solar scope but my first real foray into solar astronomy has been spectacular!!