This morning I loaded up my Yuba Mundo cargo bike with my new Lunt 60mm Hyrdogen Alpha solar telescope, tripod, mount, eyepiece case, and my nine-year-old daughter, Zora. Probably about 100 pounds of cargo altogether, no sweat. The ride to work was smooth and easy.
I work at a small college and today is matriculation day. First year students wait in a long line to meet the college president and sign in on an crusty ledger that’s older than time. It was sunny out, and I decided to test out the solar observing gear. I road down the hill to the quad from my office, part of which was off-road on the grass, and again the Yuba Mundo comported itself nicely. So far I have nothing but good things to say about the bike.
Set up took about 10 minutes altogether, and then I wandered up and down the long line of First Year students and their families, hawking my view of the sun. Some, I could see, were skeptical. Aren’t we not supposed to look at the sun with a telescope? [The answer is yes: Never, ever look at the sun with a telescope or binoculars unless they are specifically made for safe solar observing or have the appropriate solar filters on them. Otherwise, you will be blind.]
But one by one or two by two, people filtered down to the quad to take a peak. All told I showed about a dozen people the chromosphere of the sun. I pointed out a sunspot about the diameter of the earth, prominences rising from the chromosphere all around the edge of the solar disk, filaments (same thing as prominences but oriented towards us and appearing like snaky lines across the surface) and the thousands of wave-like spicules on the “surface” of a chromosphere. Greg Cotterill of WHWS radio was set up in a tent nearby, he grabbed a peak at the sun and took some photos, including this one:
That student brought his father over a few minutes later, so I think he was impressed! All told it was a successful trial run. The solar scope worked very well. I’ve had it out twice but the seeing (the steadiness of the earth’s atmosphere) was the best today, and the level of detail we could see on the sun was superb. And the gear loaded up on the bike nicely. Here’s a pic I took of the set up with the Yuba in the background. The scope and mount/tripod fit into the two cases you see on the ground there. The Pelican eyepiece case and scope fit into the bottom of the Go-Getter bag, and the tripod/mount went in next, sticking out a bit at the back.
Lastly, here’s an amazing photograph of the sun’s chromosphere, imaged by Alan Friedman in Buffalo. Alan is an extremely talented imager and a very nice guy to boot. I met him at Black Forest Star Party a few years ago. Click on this image to see it larger…and hold on to your seat.