Solar observing and photography in Hydrogen Alpha, using Damian’s new & Andy’s not-so-new Daystar Quark Chromosphere filters

What a fantastic day! The sun shone all day with hardly a cloud in sight – an ideal day for Damian to try out his new (second hand – collected yesterday) Daystar Quark Chromosphere Hydrogen Alpha filter. For those of you new to these devices, they look like an eyepiece and fit into the diagonal at the eyepiece end of the telescope. You then fit an eyepiece into the filter (the Quark is the red thing in the photos below) or camera and start observing.

We saw multiple prominences and two sunspots. Our experience demonstrated that Damian has done very well with his purpose – and excellent filter with a narrower band-width than my own (I bought along my own Daystar Quark Chromosphere today) which meant we could see better surface detail on the sun using his device. Not that I am concerned – my own performs well – it is just that Damian has done even better. Well done on a fantastic purpose!

We discovered a number of things today:

(i) Damian’s Novohitch mount is really quite stunning, not just for night time observation but also for observing the sun. In particular, it has some excellent fine movement controls that allow the observer to move around the solar disc when it is highly magnified, as happens with the Quark.

(ii) Daystar’s recommendation of the 32mm Televue Plossl really is a good choice for visual observing with this filter, whether in my Sky Watcher Equinox Pro 80mm or through Damian’s Takahashi. There is roughly 60% more focal length in his scope but even so the 32mm performs excellently in both.

(iii) I need to get an appropriately sized Allen Key for my Equinox 80mm bag – the imperial bolts that I needed to use to hold a Vixen bar onto the bottom of the scope’s own bar (to prevent marring and to give longer bar I added this one on) can’t be tightened using a standard set of British (metric) Allen keys. Good job Damian found one in his kit as my scope was wobbling around a bit!

(iv) The fold out laptop sun shades recommended by Ed Mann are wonderfully useful devices and worth every penny. Damian showed me how to fold it up again – thanks Damian! It wasn’t obvious how to do the necessary twist.

(v) I was using my scope with my Altair Astro alt-az mount today – not good – too much striction. My Half Hitch would be a better choice (little brother to Damian’s Novohitch) – both of the Hitch mounts are made by a meticulous single-handed chap in the USA who ensures there is absolutely no striction whatsoever.

(vi) I eventually got my DMK camera working with it – the use of a 0.5x focal reducer (borrowed from Damian) really helped – I have one somewhere and need to search it out. I have included some video taken with the DMK below.

(vii) I must remember to bring counter-weights – embarrassing!

(viii) I also managed to scratch Damian’s outside door (sorry!) but thankfully did not drop anything…..yet – I am going back in a couple of hours for part II – a night-time observing session.

(vix) A tracking mount would help when trying to photograph. However I got success on my videos with a drift method – starting at one side, turn video on and then collect video as sun drifts past camera field of view.

(vx) At one point my DMK over-heated in the sun and stopped working. We did not know this was possible until today.

(vxi) Possibly the best lesson of the day was just how useful a solar finder composed of a standard finder with a white light solar filter made from solar film is – once aligned with the sun it makes it much easier to find it again – the zero power finders from the likes of Televue etc. just don’t cut the mustard in this respect. Damian had made one and I saw its usefulness in action – so I made one on the spot and immediately found the process of videoing the sun easier.

Andy and Damian

 

Damian observing with his new Daystar Quark Chromosphere Hydrogen Alpha filter on his Takahashi telescope with Novohitch mount (below):

Andy and Damian

 

Andy with his Sky Watcher Equinox 80mm Telescope and Daystar Quark Hydrogen Alpha filter on Altar Astro alt-az mount (below):

The following photographs were taken at Damian’s telescope through the 32mm Plossl eyepiece attached to the Quark. Andy used his Samsung S7 camera hand held afocally next to the eyepiece (below). They show prominences on the edge of the solar disc:

 

The next photograph was taken by Damian at his telescope using his iPhone 6 (below). This also shows a large detached prominence at edge of solar disc (below):

These photographs are taken from Damian’s laptop screen showing a filament on the solar disc, Newtons rings (horizontal striping) and two sunspots on the disc and an arcing prominence seen through Damian’s telescope with Quark & pictured by his DMK camera used instead of an eyepiece on the Quark  (below):

The following show sunspots, one through each scope – first Damian’s and second (colour) Andy’s – both of us have DMK cameras – mine is colour and Damian’s black and white:

 

Videos of the solar disc showing sunspots and prominences on Equinox Pro 80mm scope with Quark. The camera is the colour DMK (below):

Leave a Reply