Warning to casual readers: never look directly at the sun, especially not through any optical equipment, e.g. binoculars or telescope – permanent blindness is the likely result. The photographs were taken through a specialist solar telescope and these features cannot be seen in any other way.
The only thing to be said for having a filthy cold is that I was at home when the heavy lid of the sky began to break into fragments – a rare event over the last rainy weeks – though the wind was gusty still, driving the fragments before it.
Sheltering myself and the viruses from this unkind environment by remaining firmly indoors, I attached the shiny new Coronado (given by the nearests and dearests) to my camera tripod – sadly, it is not compatible with the mount of the 5″.
Finding the sun was surprisingly simple, aligning the tube with a convenient shadow from the window frame, and tracking up and down until a bright dot appeared the little display window on the top of the telescope body.
Somewhat to my surprise, I could indeed see a beautiful red image, and jiggling about to find the sweet spot revealed a whopping prominence on the sun’s limb, with smaller eruptions fringing other sections. I could also begin to see detail on the disc, though like all optical observation this will need some training of the eye, practice to focus accurately, and experiments to fine-tune the hydrogen alpha wavelength, as the instrument is supposed to let you do this. For now, I concentrated on trying out eyepieces, changing from the 20mm supplied via my longest eyepiece (32mm) and then 15, 12 and 9mm.
There were certain disadvantages to the observing session: the blue bits of sky were considerably smaller than the interrupting grey segments; during the blue bits, the sun spent a surprising time behind the glazing bars of the window; the heavy solarscope threatened to take the mount over at every adjustment; the image wobbled like a jelly on the flimsy support; and violent sneezing discommoded concentrated attention. However: my sore nose, sore throat, sore eyes and sore lips wore a definitely smiley expression.
I have no idea how I will ever take a proper image of the sun with my new equipment; nevertheless I snapped, less as astrophotography than for souvenirs of first light.