Today I did my housework duty and my social duty and my family duty. And wished I hadn’t, as the sunny morning and afternoon was overtaken by thick grey clouds, and the sun vanished along with the enormous sprawling sunspot which is currently snaking its way across half a hemisphere.
Still, I pathetically set up the 5″ with its solar filter, trying to line it up ready to observe if there should be a gap in the clouds. This is pretty much impossible as the only safe way of finding the sun with a telescope is to turn your back, hold a sheet of paper behind the telescope, and watch the shadow of the scope until it is perfectly circular, when it will be by definition aimed at the sun. But without a shadow this method is unavailable. And in the most fleeting of sucker holes, the sun was visible just long enough to point the telescope, but not to observe.
At last the sun broke through for a few minutes, now, it turned out, dropping into the top of a tree. I had some hasty glimpses of what is indeed a monstrous sunspot chain, with a question mark at the ‘head’ and a concatenation of dark cores all the way to the ‘tail’. It’s a superb object.
Here is my best attempt at an image, complete with tree. Snapped through a telescope, so south is at the top.
Standard warning: never look directly at the sun, especially not through any optical equipment, e.g. binoculars or telescope – permanent blindness is the likely result. The photograph was taken through a specialist solar filter.